Friday, April 27, 2012

Back in the Saddle

I have felt a bit stuck with regard to my health and fitness goals ever since the December holidays. I've had a few good moments, but not enough of them to add up to significant progress. Finally, on the day after Easter I made my way back back to a Weight Watchers meeting and signed up for the new program. I can already tell it was a good decision. The iceberg I was headed for wasn't lettuce.

I had been thinking about returning for a while, not only for the support but to learn the new PointsPlus program, as there have been quite a few changes since my last experience with Weight Watchers.

One day last month, I found myself next door to the local WW center and stopped in to inquire about the weekly meeting schedule. Among other things, I learned that lifetime members at goal weight now have free access to all the great WW etools, including the points tracker, as long as they continue to weigh in once per calendar month and stay within 2 pounds of their goal weight.

Free access to etools is a nice perk for lifetime members. In fact, it had been something of a pet peeve of mine that we had to continue to pay each month to use the online points tracker even after achieving lifetime status. I paid to keep using WW etools for an additional year or more, but after a while enough was enough, so I discontinued my subscription--and tracking all my food. Having now rejoined the program, I'm looking forward to not having to pay once I make it back down to my goal.

Another thing I'm excited about is that on the PointsPlus program (unlike the original Points program on which I initially lost my weight) most fresh or frozen fruits and non-starchy veggies are ZERO points. Not only does that encourage healthy eating, but it means I never have to worry about having what I used to call a "hungry day," when I was out of my budgeted daily points but still craved something far more substantial than celery or sugar-free Jello! On the new program, there is always something you can eat without going off the program. Somehow, just knowing that makes the fear of getting hungry less of an issue.

It also makes tracking your points less tedious because you don't have to account for every bite of cantaloupe or broccoli you put in your mouth. There's less to track and less to measure. I especially like that it encourages you to listen to your body for signs of satiety rather than relying entirely on external measures and daily allotments. At the same time, it does help you establish appropriate boundaries and healthier thinking about food and activity. I was impressed with the program before, and I'm even more impressed now.

My husband decided to join and go to meetings with me this time around, which will be great for both of us! It's so much easier when everyone in the same household is on a similar food and exercise plan.

So, as of April 9th, I'm back in the saddle, as they say. So far, I'm not losing weight quite as quickly in my 50s as I did in my 40s, but at least I'm on track and losing again--not to mention consistently making healthier food choices and already feeling better. It's not a radical departure from how I was trying to eat and move anyway, but I now have better tools and support in place to do so more easily and consistently.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Our Bodies as Allies

I came across this image on the internet today and started thinking about what amazing things our bodies are.

I only wish the picture didn't illustrate one of the relatively rare and quite specific types of body that our society has deemed lovable: young, slender, white, blemish-free, symmetrical.

I cannot fathom even a fraction of the complex and intricate work our bodies do, minute by minute, day and night. Even when overwhelmed by illness or neglect, bodies continue to do their best for us. 

Yet, too often, we treat our bodies as though they are our enemies. We insult and mistreat them. We withhold the basic care required do what bodies are designed to do.

Not only is it a waste of energy to direct that kind of negativity toward such an incredible ally, it leads us into even more damaging acts of deprivation and punishment.

Honesty Check:
Do you ever think of going on a diet (or going to the gym) as punishment for excesses, lack of willpower, or being unsightly, in some way?

What if instead we joyfully gave our bodies the nourishment and attention they need to thrive?

If the only exercise you ever get is kicking yourself, maybe it's time to re-think that approach.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

TUESDAY TIP: Start Where You Are

What could be more obvious? Where else would you start, right?

But how many times do we decide to wait until ?

...until Monday.

...until I'm in a better frame of mind.

...until my life calms back down.

...until I can afford a gym membership.

...until the kids are in school.

...until after the holidays.

Occasionally, this actually works. If you set a realistic start date not too far into the future and really plan toward that date, you may help facilitate your own success. 

Too often, though, it doesn't turn out that way.

Monday passes or school starts and we come up with a new reason to procrastinate, moving our deadline farther into the future. In the meantime, we put off taking proper care of our bodies and probably feel pretty bad about ourselves for it.

Of course, it's only January 3rd, so there's a good chance you're fully motivated and on track with your 2012 goals, at this point. If so, that's fantastic! 

But maybe, like me, your new year got off to a rockier start than you anticipated, or experience has taught you not to even make new year's resolutions. You may remember too many worthwhile projects or good intentions that you didn't follow through on.

For whatever reason, you may just not be in the mood.

That's okay. You don't have to be in the mood, and it doesn't have to be Monday or warm enough to walk outside. You don't have to have your fridge carefully stocked with fresh organic veggies and a spotless house. There's no need to wait until you can do everything perfectly, because--let's face it--that day never comes. No matter how committed or determined we may (or may not) be, some things are beyond our control. That's okay, too. Because we simply start wherever we are: each day, each hour, each minute.

Life can feel wonderful, on occasion, and I hope you are enjoying one of those occasions right now. At other times, however, those all-systems-go experiences feel like distant memories, and life can be downright overwhelming. Especially in those moments, the ability to move forward is often less about things we should add to our to do lists than about things we can stop doing to ourselves.

Whether you are high are on the mountaintop, deep in the valley, or somewhere along the hillside, you can take the next step toward health. It doesn't have to be a big deal unless you want it to be. My Tuesday tip is to not wait for fireworks--or for anything else.

Start wherever you are in this moment.

If you have a tip to share, I'd love to read it in the comments below!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Starting Fresh

“Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.”
                                                                                            ~ John Lennon

It's the beginning of a new year, and people have been reviewing the last 12 months, formulating new goals, and setting new year's resolutions. There's something undeniably appealing about a fresh start.

I'm not arguing against any of these practices, but I am mindful of the fact that January 1st gets a lot of hype and high expectation even though, frankly, many resolutions don't have a great track record.

Nonetheless, I try to be optimistic about January 1st and usually ring in the new year with high hopes, so I was disappointed to find myself feeling ill only a couple of hours into 2012. Fortunately, it must have been some minor 24-hr bug, because I'm already feeling much better, but my big plans for the first day of the year and how I was going to get off to a great start completely tanked. I wasn't well enough to exercise, clean, organize, or do much of anything. Thankfully, by January 2nd I was not as weak as I had been the day before, but I still wasn't nearly well enough to jump in to any resolutions with both feet. 

I mention this little saga not to evoke sympathy (okay--mostly not) but because it was a great example of how the famous John Lennon quote above applies even on special occasions.

There's no denying that life doesn't always go according to plan, and I have to confess that I'm not nearly as excited about cautiously easing into my game plan this week as I was about enthusiastically jumping in on day one, but maybe it will be a good thing in the long run. There's a downside to assigning almost magical powers to any one particular day on the calendar when it comes to planning: if anything goes wrong, the whole plan may collapse like a house of cards.

In spite of all the hoopla about the new year, January 1st is in many ways a day just like any other.  If you get sick that day, you don't have to wait until another January 1st rolls around to re-start your plans, whatever they may be. By the same token, if you didn't get in gear and set goals yet for the new year, that doesn't mean you are too late.

At the end of the day, there's no real magic to starting anything on January 1st (or on Monday or after your vacation, or when the weather improves or you have more money...). 

You can make a fresh start any day. 

And there's no time like the present.