Resetting for the new year

I am a night owl still trying to be an early bird. Lately, though, I haven’t been trying hard at all. 

Over the Christmas holidays I allowed myself to stay up late and sleep in more. Because I was sleeping in more I was exercising less, and because I was exercising less I started eating crap again. A couple weeks of that and I’m now geared up for a self-imposed intervention.

Feeling crummy is not unfamiliar territory to me. I’ve written a few times about my long struggling battle of the bulge and how directly related the food I eat affects the way I feel. What may be unfamiliar is the potentially speedier recovery from my fall off the proverbial wagon.

“You’re skinny,” my friend said when she learned of my junk food relapse. “You should allow yourself the occasional treat.”

First of all, I’ve only ever been skinny once and that was 15 years ago and only lasted about four days, but thank you.

Secondly, an occasional cupcake will do to me what an occasional hit of heroine will do to a druggie. I’d really rather not spend the year ahead jonesing for junk food like so many years past.

So how do I jump back on the wagon and reverse my last two weeks of destruction? By waking up early for starters.

“The early bird gets the worm,” my dad used to say when I was a sleepy-head teen. Fine with me, I’d think to myself, it can have the worm.

Eventually I took him less literally and gave his early morning strategy a try.

Initially I disliked exercising before the sun was up, but after awhile I found that if I didn’t get it over with right away, I wouldn’t do it at all. I also discovered that once I went to the trouble of working up a sweat at the start of my day, I’d be more likely to eat healthy and get to bed at a decent hour later on.

My plan now is to return to that great habit for at least two weeks to put myself back where I was and feeling good again.

If it sounds like I’m embarking on a new years resolution, that’s okay. I am.

I’ve always liked the fresh start of a new year, a new month or a new week to make goals for myself.  And I’m experienced enough at failing miserably that I won’t abandon my resolutions for long periods of time anymore. I now cut myself some slack and keep trying until I finally find some success with whatever it is I’m attempting to achieve.

Of course, rising with the sun isn’t the only solution. It’s doing what works for us as individuals and our willingness to persist that makes the difference.

My dad was right about the early bird getting the worm, but there’s another equally correct saying about how it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese.

Personally, if I had to choose between a worm or cheese, I’d eat the latter. But I’d better compare their calorie counts before deciding for sure.

Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at LoriWelbourne.com

 

I am not a kangaroo

Two weeks ago I wrote a column about losing 25 pounds this summer by changing my addiction from junk food to an addiction to healthy food and exercise. Pleased with my mental transformation, I now continue to work on my physical goals which include toning up, getting stronger and shedding about 10 more pounds.

I say “about” 10 more pounds because it’s not the number on the scale that matters, but the way I look and feel. The number is just a guesstimate.

Over the last few months I’ve been working out daily: the treadmill, walks around the lake, hikes, weight training – that kind of thing. For the last phase of my mission I thought I’d step it up a notch and allow my friend Carly from Vo2Max in West Kelowna to become the boss of me for four or five hours a week.

After attending my first day of her brutal boot camp, I was thrilled to wake up the next morning feeling like a little old lady, barely able to crawl out of my own bed. Every muscle ached, and I loved that because I knew my body had been worked so much harder and different than when I exercise on my own.

I would just like Carly to know one important thing: I am not a kangaroo.

I can not jump rope, jump up on benches or perform that horrendous movement called the burpee with any kind of grace or accuracy. In fact, I feel and look like a complete tool every time I try.

After all the hopping around she had us doing in my first class I foolishly expected less of it in my second. I was wrong.

I understand that these explosive movements can get the body responding more dramatically than with the more comfortable physical activity I’ve been doing on my own, but that doesn’t make me love doing it.  I remind myself though, that if I can change my life-long junk food addiction to a healthy food addiction, anything is possible.

My husband, on the other hand, has no interest in learning to love Carly’s boot camp.

“No thanks,” he said decisively when I asked him if he wanted to try a class. I can’t say I was surprised. Although I would enjoy watching him struggle like me, I know it’s not his thing, and when it comes to exercise I’m a firm believer in doing what you want to do or you won’t stick with it.

“Moderate exercise will only get you moderate results,” another fitness trainer told me recently. Perhaps that’s partly true, but moderate results are a lot better than none and I’d rather see my husband doing something he likes rather than doing something he’s not into and giving up.

I might not like jumping, but after avoiding exercise classes most of my life, it turns out that I really love turning my brain off and following someone else’s lead for awhile. I know I look ridiculous performing some of Carly’s orders, but I’ll get better after attending enough of her ever-changing classes.

And there’s nothing quite as gratifying as waking up a day after a great workout feeling like a little old lady. Except, perhaps, a little old lady who’s finally learned how to jump.

For information on Carly’s Boot Camp: www.VO2MaxPersonalTraining.com

More columns, blogs, cartoons and videos can be found at LoriWelbourne.com

Dumping one addiction for another

Three months ago at the beginning of the summer, I wrote a column about my 30 year addiction to junk food. I am happy to report it is now in remission.

This may seem like an insignificant feat to some, but for me and the self inflicted jail of a body that I built for myself, it’s a game changer.  It’s also an entirely different accomplishment than just losing a dramatic amount of weight, which I’ve done several times in my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s.

My most extreme weight loss was when I was 25 and I lost 85 lbs by jogging daily and eating an unhealthy, low-fat, low cal diet. Since then I’ve gained and lost 30 lbs over and over, never keeping it off for good. Why? Because I never stopped eating crap.

My belief was that I could drink pop as long as it was calorie free. I thought it was okay to eat processed garbage if it said something as clever as “low fat” or “less than 100 calories” on the package.  And I also thought it was fine to skip meals as important as breakfast and then devour six Skinny Cow Fudgesicles right before bed.

The goal for me was always about losing weight rather than becoming as healthy as I could be, and because of that my successes with the scale would never last long.

At a certain point I finally did enough reading on the subject that I came to understand that some people develop an addiction to junk-food and I was clearly one of them.  At first I wondered if that was just a cop out, a lack of will power on my part and on the part of others who struggle with over eating and eating disorders. I then discovered there is neuroscientific proof that some of our brains react to food the exact same way other brains react to drugs. It was an eye opener that changed the way I looked at my problem and how I should be dealing with it.

At the beginning of July I sat down at the computer and typed every single garbage food or beverage I was injesting. My goal with this list was to find a healthy substitute for all of them and then commit to making a switch for a full 21 days. I had read somewhere that it takes 21 days to form a new habit and I liked the sounds of that.

I figured if I was a junk food junkie and the “everything in moderation” theory didn’t work on me, perhaps I could change my harmful addiction to a helpful addiction instead. How hard could it be? I liked lots of healthy food. I just never ate much of it when I was busy eating crap since the crap I consumed had me craving more of the same.

I replaced diet pops with ice water, coffee and Baileys with organic lattes, white rice with quinoa, ice cream with yogurt parfaits, and limitless spoonfulls of Nutella with a delicious square of dark chocolate instead. The list was rather lengthy, but I was able to figure out a nutritious alternative that I liked for everything, and I never allowed myself to feel hungry or deprived.

After 21 days I felt like I had traded one addiction for three. No longer craving junk, my old obsession was replaced by an addiction to healthy foods, working out and treating myself with love.

I’m down 25 lbs now and for the first time ever I don’t fear gaining weight because I’m finally listening to my body and giving it what it needs, and now wants as well.

Have I sworn off pizza and cookies for good? No way. They just happen to now be homemade, nutritious and far more delicious.

More columns, blogs, cartoons and videos can be found at LoriWelbourne.com

 

Blogging and jogging

Last week I wrote about my junk food addiction and I knew when I wrote that column that it would hit home for some readers and not register at all with others. I also knew I’d get a lot of advice from people about how to lose weight, which I gratefully accepted.

While many of the suggestions I received were excellent and ones I will look into, I actually do know a little something about how to lose weight and have been successful at doing so many times. What I’m far less knowledgeable about is how to conquer my self-sabotaging ways which lead me back to a place of eventually feeling heavy and unfit again.

If there’s a magic potion for that, I’m in, but after decades of trying almost every diet solution out there, I’m quite convinced there isn’t a simple or easy cure for self-destruction.  I’m no psychiatrist, but I believe that conquering that kind of behaviour, and unhealthy addictions in general, has more to do with our minds and our own feelings of self worth than anything else.

Yes, consuming healthy foods will assist with a healthier mindset, which is why I’m finally eating clean, drinking eight waters a day and exercising when I can.  I’m also recording everything I consume at MyFitnessPal.com because I believe that logging a diary of what I put in my body will help keep me on track to reaching my goals. For anyone out there looking to get healthier and wanting to sign up to this free website, please connect with me there if you’d like to encourage each other along the way.

Okay, no more weight loss talk for awhile. I don’t want to bore the heck out of all the readers out there who could care less about this topic and have probably stopped reading this article already. As of this week I’ll be blogging about random topics that interest me on my newly-updated website and I’ll undoubtedly write about this particular subject from time to time. If you’d like to connect with me there, please do. Subscriptions to my website are free and weekly prizes will be given out to those who sign up.

Along with my blogs I will also be posting cartoons courtesy of my talented cartoonist Jim Hunt, and I’m always open to any feedback or ideas that anyone would like to share.

Why I would choose to write more when I clearly could use the time in the gym or doing countless other things is a little beyond me right now. All I can say is that I have this overwhelming urge to share more than I already do in my weekly newspaper columns.

There’s something about blogging that’s different than column writing and I guess the biggest difference is the lack of rules that apply when you’re writing online. I can be as brief or as lengthy as I wish and I can write about whatever topic interests me in that moment with little regard to appealing to the masses.

The definition of a blog according to the Urban Dictionary on the internet is this: A meandering, blatantly uninteresting online diary that gives the author the illusion that people are interested in their stupid, pathetic life.

With a description as wonderful as that, who wouldn’t want to spend their valuable time blogging? Now if I could only figure out a way to blog and jog simultaneously, I’d be set.

For more columns, cartoons, blogs and videos please visit me at LoriWelbourne.com

Food for thought

You are what you eat, and I’m tired of feeling like junk. So, guess what? I’m finally doing something about it.

Since adolescence I’ve used unhealthy foods to deal with uncomfortable feelings of anxiety, stress and depression comparable to a drug addict or an alcoholic. I’m 45 now, and this has been a big issue in my life for the last 30 years. I’m 5-foot-6-inches tall and I’ve been as heavy as 215 pounds and as light as 125 pounds, but no matter what weight I’ve been, I’ve never given up on the junk.

Even when I was at my lowest weight, which turned out to be too thin to maintain, I still consumed lots of candies, refined carbs and diet sodas, so I was never the picture of health.

“You’re a thin person in a fat person’s body,” a gym owner once told me in my second hour on his sweat-soaked treadmill. I was insulted at the time, but he was right. I was skinny from my calorie-restricted diet and my workout overloads, but I wasn’t healthy. As always, I was treating my body like a garbage disposal unit.

Why? Initially I didn’t know any better. As a tween I slept with bricks on my stomach thinking that would flatten my belly. It didn’t. As a teen working at McDonalds, I’d survive on Big Macs and chicken nuggets, gain weight,  and then suddenly limit myself to grapefruit juice and mixed nuts. Of course I’d lose weight on a silly diet like that, but I’d always gain it back.

After succeeding and failing on so many different diets over the years, I started learning more about my physical make-up as well as what’s psychologically driving me to self-sabotage when I’m just starting to feel and look good.

This is a complicated issue, and anyone who thinks dieting is pure mathematics obviously doesn’t have the same problems that I, and millions of others do when it comes to food addiction. Or perhaps I should say junk addiction, because it’s not real food that’s the issue. It’s the processed crap that passes for food in the grocery store and often has little or no nutritional value whatsoever.

“I stick to the outside perimeter of the store when I go grocery shopping,” my friend told me recently. “Haven’t you ever noticed that all the packaged stuff that our bodies don’t need is in the middle aisles?”

I have noticed that, and I’ve had that pointed out to me many times. Yet just because you know the facts doesn’t mean you’ll make wise decisions. Any smoker can tell you that.

As I mentioned, I’m tired of feeling like junk, so I’m not putting any more of it into my body. No more pop, candy, processed foods or anything else that ends up making me feel gross.

It’s easy to say these words in a moment of strength, but what will I do when I get that overwhelming desire to self-sabotage like I always do? My plan is to write about the experience in a journal and record everything I consume on MyFitnessPal.com, a free diet and fitness site supporting people with health goals.

I want to know the reason I deliberately spoil my well-laid plans, and the trick to conquering this behaviour. I think it’s different for everyone, but if anyone wants to share what worked for them, please contact me at loriwelbourne.com

Knowledge is power, and I’m ready to accept any advice that will help me climb out of my garbage can.