Sunday, 14 September 2014

Trying to get this zen thing down

One of my biggest challenges whenever I have worked to lose weight (both back in 2000 and more recently over the past couple of years), is that I am impatient.  I want to lose weight, and I want to lose it now.  I am sure that this is because somewhere in the dinosaur part of the back of my mind is the idea that if I just lose the weight, I can go back to "eating normally" and stop working out.

Of course you and I both know that this thinking is based on an inherently faulty premise, namely, that one can ever really "stop" eating healthy and working out if one wants to stay healthy. 

I am starting to discover that lifestyle change is just that - - a change in one's overall lifestyle.  This is something that continues on and on and on, no matter what one's weight.  Viewed through the lens of lifestyle change, it really doesn't matter whether I am overweight (as I currently am), or morbidly obese (as I once was), or a normal BMI (as I once was, ever so briefly) - - the lifestyle does not change. 

I am slowly, over time, coming to realize (and more importantly, to accept), that being vigilant about what I eat and working out 6 days a week are just part of my life from now on.  Like a recovering alcoholic, a recovering "foodaholic" like me needs to be constantly aware of the opportunities for backsliding as well as aware of coping mechanisms to deal with the addiction. 

In my case, my most successful coping mechanisms have involved regular exercise and logging my food consumption in a food diary.  I will likely need to keep a food diary for years no matter what my weight is, because I am still working through my tendency to overeat and binge.  Emotional eating is never more than arm's length away for me, and I need to keep tracking to keep myself accountable. 

Surprisingly, the exercise has been easier for me this time (compared to back in 2000).  Back in 2000, I was doing 60 minutes a day with a combination of recumbent bike (boring!), NordicTrac ski machine (too challenging), and weight machine every other day (super fun).  I learned that consistency is critical, and the key to consistency is finding a workout routine that you can maintain.  For me now this means elliptical machine (a true godsend), free weights, and walking, along with opportunistic exercise like swimming or kayaking on occasion. 

This time I am not so desperate to hit my goal weight just so that I can stop working out, because I know that working out will be a part of my life even after I reach my goal weight - - perhaps not to the same intensity, but it will still be a part of every day.  I hate to admit it, but perhaps I have started to experience endorphins.  In other words, working out makes me feel good.  More accurately, perhaps, finishing a workout makes me feel good, but I do love that feeling of accomplishment that comes from pushing myself and getting a good sweat on. 

I would not say that I have reached a Zen-like state of perfect acceptance.  But I am getting there.  I am focusing less on "when will I hit my goal weight?" and more on "what can I do as part of my healthy lifestyle today?" I still would love to hit a normal BMI, but I am beginning to recognize that it is the journey, and the mental changes I am making along the way, that is important. 

So not quite Zen, then, but Zen-in-progress.  I'll take that.

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