A few days ago a friend asked how I experience the weight loss, and so in Part I, I took on the easy part of discussing the physical experience. Today, I’ve taken on the mental experience and will leave the emotional one for later.
Part of losing weight is breaking the patterns, taking control of my mind and my automatic responses to stresses has been a key element of weight loss. So mental experience of weight loss includes the learning of what are my triggers and how to move out of them. It included pondering various studies, arguments and folklore regarding diet coke, insulin spikes, wheat belly, gluten, Paleo diets and other item shared by friends and coworkers. There are controversies around the impact of most of these items and it would have been easy to get bogged down in the various papers. Ultimately, I had to let go and just find the middle road and what seemed logical for there is no question that my eating choices were a key contributor to my weight gain
As an analytic, I needed to also give myself metrics to reflect on what was working because I knew the weight losses would be slow. I knew that if my brain didn’t see change over a few weeks that I might start to second guess my activities. In order to get past those self-doubts, I started the spreadsheet recording inches. I also tried a few different programs settling on supertracker to record food intake / output / stats. The program was critical in the first three months, and is still a good program for me to fall back to when I hit a plateau. Why? It provides caloric but also nutrient, food group charting, including goals. It allows my analytical side to kick in, bypassing the emotional triggers.
The other part of the analytic was to be honest about what the weight loss was blocking, in part, the writing of this blog and the monthly summary of functional changes. It was essential that I remembered that I needed to avoid bench seats at restaurants.
Relearning to cook from scratch, plan meals, do crockpots was a fun challenge. It involved building new routines which paired with the CrossFit regime: ie, new fruit/vegetable market, new meat stand, new egg location. But that is really about the experience of learning to eat healthy again rather than the experience of the weight loss.
The biggest learning was to get past the idea that weight loss was the sole measurement of health. Now for those who bluster at that one, clearly weight combined with height is a key measurement of health; however, it is not the sole one, nor are the simplistic BMI calculators available a good measure of how healthy or obese I am. I needed to accept that I was morbidly obese. I needed to accept that weight was only one of the goals, and if anything, more of a byproduct of achieving “healthy”.
The other learning was to get past the dependence on the scale. Yes, I weight myself daily, but, if it goes down a pound or up two it is less of a cause for celebration or despair. I had to purchase a digital scale to stop my brain from playing the “what does it really state” game of the old style scale. Once I went digital I had a clear accurate measurement. I then had to accept the natural ebbs and flows of weight. As a woman, my body has always floated up or down 5 pounds through the month…and of course as a human our body floats, plus..there is working out adding pounds with muscle. So….the hard part for me is to get my brain to quit relying on that scale and then triggering food eating behavior based on what the changes were. This continues to be one of the hard ones, yet, I cannot give up the scale as a measurement tool.
In summary, the experience of weight loss intellectually has been about reprogramming my mind and trying to understand the weight loss variables and learn to live within the grays.