Tuesday, July 25, 2017

July 25th, 2017 For Those Who Choose To Live

July 25th, 2017 For Those Who Choose To Live

After writing last night about allowing Noah in my lap, behind the wheel--steering the car in the parking lot where I live, I received a few concerned messages about the dangers involved. I clearly didn't think that one through!! Vickie was one of the voices expressing concern...

Vickie--thank you for this comment on last night's post:
"If your airbag goes off, it will be a tragedy, there have been several news reports on this topic. Once they were sitting reading books, waiting for a sibling, the car was in park/not even moving and someone else bumped into them in the parking lot. Really terrible."

That possibility didn't cross my mind in the least--but oh my, you're so right, Vickie. And I appreciate your comment very much. It was in a small parking lot--and I was ultimately in control of the vehicle, but still--if a car had backed out into us--or something unexpected like that, and I can't even imagine. Anyway, I'll not be doing that again! After I read your comment and realized the seriousness of it, the image of a loaded gun that you're hoping nobody "bumps" and makes accidentally go off, crossed my mind. He loves cars and driving. But we'll stick with kiddie cars and maybe go karts some day!

DDWL Series of July 25th Flashbacks from one, two, three and eight years ago...

One year ago today:
I knew something was going on, but I didn't know why. I started getting a bunch of Twitter activity midday. My Twitter followers naturally fluctuate up and down. Some people will follow without knowing what I'm all about, then quickly unfollow after several food and water pictures. I never take it personally. They're not aware of what this Twitter feed is all about or why it started in the first place.

I'm proud of the two years and four months worth of picture tweets documenting everything. What started as an "extreme accountability measure" designed to aid my turnaround from relapse/regain, transformed into simply an accountability measure and now, I credit the Twitter feed for helping me maintain consistency, improving my choices and encouraging me to mindfully prepare and enjoy my food... and enjoy the process! I don't plan on stopping this part of my plan anytime soon, or ever, really. 

It turned out, the Today Show included me in an article released on Twitter and Facebook. It was an unexpected surprise this afternoon. That explained today's dramatic increase in Twitter and Facebook traffic! It was an honor to be included with five other JoyFit Club members!

Two years ago today:
We were celebrating. Everyone was gathered at the restaurant in good spirits, drinks and food ordered, conversations circulating and plenty of laughter frequently breaking out. I was at the end of the table looking over the menu, checking my calorie budget and deciding on what would become my dinner. I already decided water-no ice, with lemon and lime, would be my drink choice. After I ordered the 7oz sirloin with double asparagus, the question came from a friend across the table.

"Do you ever cheat?"

"I haven't in almost sixteen months."

First of all, let me make it very clear--this isn't a boast. This is simply a fact. Further--let me stress how incredibly surprised I am that I can honestly say that.

How in the world could I do an about-face, a 180--a total turnaround from where I found myself sixteen months ago? The answer isn't a simple sentence or source. It's a bunch of things working together on several different levels. Spiritual, emotional and mental work, and different levels of support--from group support to one on one support, to the accountability measures put into place to help guide me along--keeping my awareness level high and my routine consistent.

This turnaround from relapse/regain wasn't a simple declaration of "starting tomorrow things will be different." I tried that approach several times without a shred of success. I wasn't creating an action plan and then, when things remained the same the next day, I'd sit around feeling hopeless and doomed. It was like throwing the same thing against a wall and hoping it would somehow stick this time. It didn't, several times.

I needed an action plan. Once an action plan was created, that's when things started changing dramatically.

The list was long: Return to writing this blog daily, as the name suggests. Weigh and measure my food as much and as often as possible. Log every single thing in MyFitnessPal. Tweet a picture, description and calorie count of every bite, every day. Make sure what I do eat, I enjoy, 100%. Commit to a regular exercise plan. Re-commit to giving and receiving more support via group and one on one interactions. Abstain from refined sugar. And treat all of these elements with an importance level in the highest, most non-negotiable way.

Honestly, the list felt a little over-whelming, at first. The very first thing I did was try to figure out reasons why it wasn't possible for me to do this thing. I remember one session with Life Coach Gerri, that mirrored almost word for word what was asked by my therapist at the time. I was talking about how I was way too busy to return to daily blog posts. Gerri immediately challenged me with some good questions: When you experienced so much success before--and you were blogging daily, were you not just as busy? Very true. Good point. I was just as busy. And she didn't stop at making a good point: So, what you were doing was working well until you stopped doing it, right? Well, when you put it that way, but...

I kept throwing out objections and Gerri kept persisting with questions designed to challenge me into changing my perspective. Suddenly I stopped coming up with reasons why I couldn't do it and I started coming up with ideas and solutions proving I could.

Besides, I thought you said that writing brings you immense joy. Why would you stop something that not only contributes in positive ways to your success--but does it at the same time it's bringing immense joy into your life? Damn it. She's good.

Okay, okay--from this moment forward, I'm blogging every day. That was over 450 days ago. I haven't missed one since. Sure, occasionally time constraints require a short one--and sometimes a "tweets only" one...but it's done, each and every night. And it's made a profound difference.

The MFP and Tweets really bothered me, mainly because I knew that if I committed 100%, the only way it would work is if I applied a very strict code of honesty. The first time I eat something without logging and tweeting it--it's all over. I knew that going in--and it seemed extreme and beyond necessary to tweet everything. Turns out, it's helped me in monumental ways. The Tweets inspire me to eat well. I eat much better now than I ever did before. The Tweets and MFP logging have encouraged me to slow down and enjoy the process of planning, preparing and enjoying my food. I make the time to take good care--and in this care, I'm honoring my commitments.

In my book, Transformation Road, I wrote about my philosophy on cheat days or cheat meals--or cheating, period. If what I'm doing is so restrictive and against the grain of what I can do for the rest of my life, then perhaps I need to change what I'm doing. For me to accept a "cheat day," suggests that what I'm doing the rest of the time is just a means to an end. If I'm constantly looking forward to the day when I can cut loose--then I might want to inspect the daily restraints. This isn't about defining restrictions, it's about refining solutions--making this something enjoyable, doable--workable, delicious--satisfying...and if we can make it all that, then why would we feel the need to deviate into old behaviors for a day or a meal? If what I'm doing is a temporary means to an end--and I'm forcing myself to do something unnatural to me and what I like--then I'm setting myself up for a monumental problem down the line.

The abstinence from refined sugar has made a profound impact bio-chemically--effectively turning off the "binge switch" and ushering in a peace and calm I never knew. But as I've discussed before--it doesn't stop the other side of things--the deeply ingrained pattern of seeking comfort with food in times of extreme emotion and high stress. I've had three very close calls in the last fifteen plus months--one of those three happened recently, on Wednesday July 15th. Each time, reaching out for support--texting it or talking it out, has made a HUGE difference. It's not as easy as simply agreeing that excess food doesn't fix anything--or that food isn't a therapist. It doesn't matter how long or how much success we're experiencing, I've learned that unless I reach out for support, I'm perfectly capable of talking myself into the comfort food dynamic.

Do I ever cheat?

Why would I want to cheat myself out of the tremendous blessings this road brings? I don't, so I won't.

My success isn't a guarantee. I'm not entitled. It's not automatic. If I stop doing the things I'm doing, I'll quickly fall hard.

This here thing is a daily practice--a one day at a time practice of uniquely crafted fundamental elements. I just want one more day feeling as good as I feel when I'm honoring my commitment and maintaining the integrity of my plan. I'd like a whole bunch of one more days . 

If this were a blog about sobriety and abstinence from alcohol, would the "Do you ever cheat?" question even come up? Likely not. This is why it's crucial for me to treat my continued recovery from food addiction with the same reverence as someone in successful recovery from other things.

Three years ago today:
Just because I'm eating better than I have my entire life, it doesn't mean I'm eating things I don't naturally enjoy. If you scroll through my Twitter feed, you'll see--I eat what I like and nothing I don't. For me, this is a very important element of success. I've made some adjustments (no sugar), so I do not eat anything and everything like a previous, less evolved version of me, but the "what I like and nothing I don't" philosophy and practice is still a solid part of my approach.

I haven't had much time this week to cruise through blogland, reading, commenting and supporting as much as I prefer, but this crazy schedule is coming to end this weekend. I'm looking forward to a less busy week ahead. Reading, commenting and taking a genuine interest in my fellow bloggers is very important to me. When a good blogging friend is absent from new postings for a while, I wonder and worry about the possible reasons behind their hiatus. Then, I think--I wonder if some had the same concerned thoughts about me over the course of my journey? 

The commitment I've made to blog daily is one I felt was critically important for my recovery and continued success.  It's an accountability thing for me. It's also a pleasure thing for me, something that brings me not only clarity in my trek, but extreme joy in the process. When I started getting away from daily postings in August 2010, three and a half months shy of hitting my predetermined goal of 230 pounds, I was trading one of my greatest joys for the distractions of everything else. I'm happy to say that this is my 92nd consecutive entry in this daily diary, even happier to say it's made a monumental difference in my life. I must pause and thank Life Coach Gerri Helms and my private therapist for inspiring and convincing me to return to daily writing. It's interesting to note that both presented different, yet equally powerful reasons why it was a good idea. Gerri was focused more on the consistent accountability and support it creates, while my therapist supported a return to the joy, pleasure and clarity I experience in writing. Combining the two made perfect sense, so I made it one of my top priorities.

Eight years ago today:
I flew like a bird today across the top of the water on Lake Ponca. It was one of my greatest experiences. I had never viewed the lake from that perspective. I always stayed on the shore and watched other people zip across the water as I sat miserably in the sun wondering what they must feel like to experience such freedom. 

I found out: They feel great. I was one of them today. 

The owner of Team Radio had invited me to his private dock to ride his Sea Doo jet ski no less than five times over the last month or so. Today I decided I would do it. 

Doing things like this that were once nearly impossible is one of the quickest ways for me to get really emotional about how far I've come in the last 313 days. This is what it's all about. It's living my friend. Really living. You know what I mean? Feeling that jet ski lift up and skimming across the water as the wind hurried through my hair was simply amazing. I felt like I could fly. 

As I rode atop the surface I thought about how things have changed for me and continue to change. It would have been so easy to never have started on September 15th of last year. I did that my entire life. You know, think about starting, even plan starting, get excited about starting and then when the day would come (always a Monday for me), nothing but fear and giant overwhelming feelings of I can't, it's going to take too long, how am I going to do this under so much daily stress? It certainly wasn't that I didn't want it---Oh I did...but I was so busy trying to complicate the process, I couldn't get a handle on figuring out how to really do it. 

I always claimed “Oh, I know how to lose weight---just eat less and exercise more.” But there's more to it than that. Until I really analyzed the psychological part of the equation, I couldn't solve the problem no matter how bad I wanted it. 

This time is certainly like no other for me. It's the real deal my friend. The way out was found because I completely surrendered the dishonesty within, the excuses, and the rationalizations that always gave me reasons to fail. 

I decided to give this mission the importance level it deserves so it wouldn't be easy to rationalize bad choices---because it's just too important. 

And here I am 313 days later, flying across the top of a lake, viewing a perspective reserved only for those who choose to live.
This concludes the July 25th series of DDWL Flashbacks! 

And here I am 3,235 days later--still practicing a perspective reserved only for those who choose to live. I want to live more!! Goodnight--and thank you for your loyal readership.

Today: I maintained the integrity of my maintenance calorie budget, I remained refined sugar-free, I met my daily water goal, and I stayed connected with good support.

Today's Accountability Tweets:

Thank you for reading and your continued support,

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