Dealing With Others’ Reactions To Our Weight Loss Part 2

Part 2: Partners in Crime

Story Time

In part 1 of this 3 part series, I mentioned that at the beginning, only my wife knew that I was starting this journey. Without her support, and help, I don’t know how I could have gotten started as quickly as I did. While smaller changes at one time are generally are easier to make into long-term habits when embarking on a lifestyle change, I was facing a ticking clock like I was Jack Bauer in 24, counting down to the birth of my daughter.

So we went at this with all guns blazing and started making big changes, at all once. I don’t really recommend that you do it this way for a few reasons. First, it can be overwhelming. Trying to change your built in habits all at once means that you are going to have to temporarily allow your diet and exercise changes to taking over your life. That means really focusing on it, putting energy toward it, and prioritizing it. And that may mean some short term suffering, and de-prioritizing other things such as a social life, free time generally spent on relaxing, etc.

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“I Can’t Cook” Handbook

Cooking. It’s one skill that while I’ve dabbled in it here and there (I make some amazing scrambled eggs), it’s not something that I’ve mastered. Like anything else, the only way that you get better at it is by failing, learning, trying, and adapting. However, I find no pleasure or joy in it, and honestly, really dislike it.

Thankfully, my wonderful wife is an amazing cook and enjoys it. However, as time is our most precious resource, sometimes cooking is our last priority. Well, how do you feed a family of four when you often can’t prioritize cooking, while still maintaining the lifestyle changes that have made lasting weight loss possible? I’m glad you asked!

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Dealing With Others’ Reactions To Our Weight Loss Part 1

Part 1: The Hidden Power of Secrets

Story Time

“The strong people are not those who show strength in front of us, but those who win battles we know nothing about.”

47 Days. That’s how long it was until I told another soul on this earth (besides my wife), that I was attempting to lose weight. Even then, it was through an anonymous post on the internet (hey, shout out to the SomethingAwful forums again). It would be even longer before I confided in those closest to me, my friends and family.

At over 400lbs, I was already an introvert and as antisocial as they come. I had tried and failed so many times, I wasn’t yet ready to tell my friends and family that I was trying to lose weight because I was afraid to fail yet again. Even though as the weeks flew past, and the weight dropped off, and I was falling in love with the process, I was still afraid. Afraid that it wouldn’t last, that this was a dream, and maybe deep down, afraid that I somehow didn’t deserve this. I put my head down, and I did the work.

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The Vampire Weekend

(not the band. sorry, not sorry.)

STORY TIME

Flash back to 8 years ago. It was March. Breaking Bad aired its first episode 2 months prior. Rhianna’s song, Umbrella, was on the radio every other song. The first Iron Man movie was coming out in about 2 months. I spent my evenings playing World of Warcraft with my online friends. I was my guild’s main tank. This meant that it was my job to piss off the boss monsters so that they only attacked me and not the characters of my friends. It wasn’t easy. It required figuring out the best equipment to do the job and that changed depending on which boss monsters you happened to be fighting.

For my job, I spent my days writing scripts that automated stuff for other office workers. But between projects, when most people were browsing the internet for cat pictures, I was figuring out which pieces of equipment would help me fight those bosses and tracking the data using Microsoft Excel, and I wrote complex formulas to analyze which piece of equipment was optimal for each situation.

Oh, and I was over 400lbs. I was in constant back pain. I gorged myself on pizza smothered in ranch dressing because it was easy to make (simply dial the number for delivery, cover with ranch, boom). I hardly ever moved except to move between chairs. At most it was office chair, to car seat, to home computer chair. In fact, even getting up to walk to the restroom often made me out of breath.

400lbs

The World Was About To Change. At Least Mine Was.

I found out that my wife was pregnant, and had my epiphany moment.
I felt a lightning bolt strike me, filling me with the absolutely certainty that I had to lose weight, and I had to start right now…

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A Big Ball Of Timey-Wimey Stuff

“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint – it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly… time-y wimey… stuff.”
-The Tenth Doctor, Doctor Who, episode “Blink”

Time Is The Only Currency That Matters

Time. Time is the only real resource or currency we have. We exchange our time for money, services and experiences. We also tend to waste time on things that don’t really matter. I do that too. Even now. Hell, I procrastinated writing this very article because my fear of writing is something I struggle with, and rather than keep trying, I scroll through Facebook or Reddit or play video games. But as I recently talked about in my blog post about conquering fear, the things we fear may be the very things we need to focus on, as fear indicates we are out of our comfort zone. And when we are out of our comfort zone, we grow.

“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.” – Bruce Lee

You probably feel like every other person on this planet: that there is never enough time to get everything done. There is a constant struggle of trying to fit in the things that you want to get done and the things you need to get done. Things you need to get done are the steps that allow you to accomplish both your short term and long term goals.

Simply trying to do everything is only going to result in you feeling like you’ve accomplished nothing.

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Fear Is The Mind-Killer

Fear. (n.) an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat.

How Fear Affected Me

Fear. It often lurks in the back of our mind, feeding the subconscious mind ideas that are counter to our goals. Per the definition above, fear is caused by a belief not necessarily by actual fact, meaning that our subconscious fears could be holding us back from our realizing our true-selves.

It wasn’t until I had my epiphany moment, and made the choice to live, to be there for my wife, for my daughter, and myself, that I realized that my entire life up to that point had been ruled by fear. I was afraid to lose weight. I was afraid to fail. I was afraid to succeed. I was afraid of what people would say. But in my epiphany moment, none of that mattered. I became separate from my fear and the fears I had related to weight loss no longer mattered because my reason why was greater and stronger than the fear. My fears had felt real, and thus had paralyzed my actions in the past, but once my true-self revealed it’s desires, my fear felt cheap, and like a bad dream, rather than a fact of my reality.

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Set Yourself Up For Success During The Holidays

“With the holidays coming the paranoia and worry and stress over diet is starting already. Listen: If you are fortunate enough and blessed enough to have a family tradition of holidays meals – then have a “healthy” perspective about that. This is not the time to get all bent out of shape over “sticking to my” diet. Don’t lose sight of why you are doing all this to begin with! If you can’t embrace and celebrate with food the spectacular holidays and events that tradition and culture provide, then your diet mentality is HURTING YOU” – Coach Scott Abel

Like Coach Abel said, many people are likely stressing out over the holidays, but you shouldn’t be! You need a strategy that allows you to enjoy them, and not feel stressed or guilty. Recognize the signs of obsession before they start to take over your life.

So how do you set yourself up for success over the holidays, when holiday celebrations tend to stretch from December 23rd to January 2nd?

Here’s what I recommend

Fitting Fitness Into Your Vacation

The Two Mindsets of Fitting Fitness Into Your Vacation


quantumJunction
Vacations are times of rest, relaxation, and freedom from our regular activities, which often leads to changes in our eating habits throughout the vacation. When faced with trying to figure out how to enjoy vacation and still be faithful to the new eating habits, it is not uncommon for people to have some minor anxiety over vacations in relation to their new eating habits. There can be an overwhelming feeling that taking a vacation from those new eating habits is going to have a lasting effect by erasing their hard earned progress.

I felt that way for a long time. I struggled, bouncing back and forth between using vacations as an excuse to eat all of the things and trying to ignore the fact that I was on vacation all together in regard to my food choices. I would either eat all of the food I had been previously denying myself in quantities that my former 400 lb self would have enjoyed, or I would try to make the healthiest possible choices for every single vacation meal, agonizing over the menu often hours in advance of heading to the restaurant. I also once brought my scale with me on vacation so I could monitor my weight throughout the week. I can say with hindsight that neither approach made me happy, and that I was doing myself and my long term happiness a disservice.

As with most things, a middle ground approach results in the best of both worlds. For the most part, I now don’t obsessively track things, I enjoy alcohol and desserts every day while on vacation, and I take a break from the scale. What’s most important is what you do the day you come back after vacation. Sure, you might step on the scale that day (I don’t actually recommend it), but what I mean is that regardless of what the scale shows, or how much you ate and drank on vacation, as long as your eating and exercise habits return to their new normals, then so will your scale weight. What you ate on vacation should have no lasting impact. People (formerly me!) get into trouble when they continue the vacation style eating and possibly lack of exercise long after the vacation has ended.

Back to Back Vacations: A plan is needed!


This summer for my family has been awesome so far.

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TURN UP THE VOLUME

volume

Comfort foods = feel good, at least at first

Comfort foods, sugar, candy, cake. We generally feel great while eating them. When we are feeling sad or have a bad day, eating them temporarily makes us feel better. The reason that we feel better is that these foods release the hormones serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which are our happiness hormones. So it’s no surprise that when we do feel sad our first reaction is to turn toward food, specifically the food that has made us happier in similar situations. We’ve learned over our lifetimes that our comfort foods are a quick and easy fix to move us toward a better mood and alleviate the stress from our day.

However, when we are working toward long term health, and fitness, this habit of eating highly palatable, calorically dense, nutrient sparse foods works against those long term goals. In fact, it even works against long term mood and happiness. In short, it’s a brutal cycle of feeling the need to eat foods that make you better in the moment but make you feel awful in the long term as they erode your health and fitness levels if over consumed. Given how stressful modern life is, and how easy those foods are to overconsume (by design), it is no surprise that our journeys toward health always seem to be detoured by stress and the accompanying stress-eating.

Feeling good, and feeling full, by turning up the volume

There is good news though. It is possible to create some of the same feelings without overindulging in foods that will likely lead you in the opposite direction of your goals.

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Fudist – Conquering Restaurant Meals

theportions

If you are anything like me, you’ll jump at the chance to go out for a meal with good company. I mean, what’s not to love? No cooking, no dishes, no cleanup, and you can sit and talk with people who are important to you. Or, if you are going solo, you can save yourself some time, since there are only a limited number of hours in a day, you want to make the most of them.

Yet, trying to stick to a healthful diet, and going out to eat often can be difficult, especially if you are tracking your calories or macros. Perhaps you have encountered some of the following problems when trying to eat out while tracking:

  1. Feeling hopeless when looking over the menu, not knowing what to eat that is in line with your goals.
  2. Trying to look up nutritional information for the restaurant on your phone, then trying to figure out the math.
  3. Skipping going out so that you can stick to your diet. When I first started, I did this too many times to count, but never again. Your lifestyle changes should be a part of your life, not overtake it!

The good news is that there is an app for that.

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