Saturday, August 21, 2010

Progress, not Perfection

So I've had a great week!  My mother in law was here watching Elizabeth since Stephen started school again.  I'm beginning to experience what it is going to be like when Elizabeth starts school next week.  It will be nothing short of challenging to keep up with everything, but I know I can do it.  I think its because I have the "want" to.

I was sharing my health story with my boss yesterday afternoon.  I brought in my "before" pictures and put them on a bulletin board in my office.  It feels great to see them every day as a reminder that I won't ever be that person again.  As I was sharing my story, I was telling her about how much more goal oriented I am now than I was a year ago.  I don't walk around all day wondering how fat I look or hoping people don't look at me.  I get dressed in the morning, typically choosing one outfit and sticking with it.  That was never my MO. I always changed 5 or 6 times and usually ended up crying.  It was tough to look fat in everything.  Even now, I'm not a thin person, hello, I weigh 221 pounds for crying out loud.  But I don't look "bad," and I don't feel bad.  I look happy and like I'm working toward being healthy.  I hope I look that way anyway.  I did have someone really surprised last week that I am a runner.  I guess I don't really fit the profile - tall and lean?  I'll never be tall...but I'm working on being lean.  It will take me time.  In the meantime it is kind of fun to surprise people with my healthy habits and activity. 

At the end of the day it is all about not giving up even when it seems to be hopeless.  I've been on a thousand diets and failed a thousand times (sometimes more than once from the same diet plan).  The bottom line is this - if you can't do whatever you are doing to be healthy forever it won't work and it won't last.

I'm not interested in losing all of the weight tomorrow.  In fact, I'm enjoying the gradual changes.  It makes it more fun to take a month or two to lose a size than it happening tomorrow.  And I know because I'm not on a diet, that it will last.  I will continue to lose until I reach a healthy weight for my body and then I will keep eating and exercising like I am now.  I'll probably be able to exercise even more!  And even though that might be another year away it no longer feels like an impossible dream.  I'm halfway to my goal.  It has taken a year.  But it has been so worth it.  Would it have gone more quickly had I not injured my ankle in February?  Maybe.  But that caused me to have time for the deep introspection I needed to do to work on the emotional aspects of my unhealthy habits.  It gave me the time and the extra time necessitated the thinking.  I was determined not to gain weight back when I couldn't exercise for almost 2 months.  And I didn't!  I lost - some of it muscle, but then my body found its balance again when I was able to run and 2 months later I ran my first 5k without stopping.

Yep, I'll take the slow steady win over the fast but unsteady loss.  I've done fast but unsteady.  I've done no carb and I was the crankiest I've ever been.  I've counted the points and made myself crazy, not to mention hungry (I don't think the formulas should be so across the board).  No matter what I have done in the past I can't say enough that if it can't be done forever it won't work.  That's it!  You will never convince me otherwise, you know I was an expert at dieting.  Binging the night before, then rewarding weight loss with all the bad foods I had "given up."  Depriving my body of any food that had fat in it - and today I eat 60 grams a day at least.  My body needs fat - good fat that is - it needs fuel!  Especially for the exercise I like to do.  :)

I hear people say all the time "I'm going back to such and such diet or plan, it really worked for me."  How did it work if you have to go back to it?  That means it stopped working.  And if it can't sustain itself then it won't work.  And you will go back through the cycle of getting crazy worked up about counting, depriving and guilting and the next thing you know, you've given up again.

These small changes I made over the course of the last year have yielded huge results.  My friend Barb and I are working on putting the plan to paper so others can learn about it and be able to achieve the same.  It's so difficult to describe but the proof is me.  I have lost 63 pounds and haven't "dieted" once.  I eat chocolate almost every day.  I have just changed enough about what I eat and how I eat and become active enough for it to work.

Has the experience been perfect?  No.  But there was so much more to it than just eating better and exercising.  I had to work through the "why."  I had to understand how I ever reached 285 pounds and how I could never do that to myself again.  And get underneath the emotion behind my eating and the self-defeating cycle that ensued every time.

So no, not perfect.

But I'm looking for progress now, not perfection.  And every day I make good choices, I see progress...which is good enough for me!


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