I skipped running yesterday. I have a slight cold, and usually my asthma flares up when I have a cold, and I didn’t want to deal with a flare-up so I didn’t run. I got back on the horse this morning, though, and went for a quick walk/jog after I walked Sienna to school. It occurred to me, for the billionth time, that I probably will lose some weight from running but not all of it because I never, ever stick with a plan. I’ll start something, like the Abs diet, or Nourishing Traditions, or running, or Insanity, and do it for a while and see some results but then I’ll start slacking off and pretty soon I’m up ten pounds and wearing nothing but t-shirts and yoga pants again. I brought it up to the Ogre last night and mused that maybe my problem is that I have an either/or mentality when it comes to dieting and exercise. I either eat whatever I want and lay around feeling sorry for my fat self, or I completely overhaul our entire family’s way of eating and commit to running like I’m training for a marathon. The problem is that neither of those ways of living are sustainable. They are opposite sides of a healthy balance, and instead of finding the balance I keep ping-ponging back and forth between them.
This morning, though I had another thought. I’ve always followed someone else’s plan. I’ll follow a diet in a book, or a way of eating in a book, or an exercise video, or a “run your way to a 5k” program, but they’re always plans thought of by someone else. I’ve never said, “okay, this is what I have problems with, so this is what I’m going to do about it.” I’ve never drawn up my own map, which now seems pretty stupid, because I know my own body better than anyone. I also know my cravings, my weaknesses, my strengths, motivations that work for me and motivations that don’t. So following a generic, one-size-fits-all pattern will never work as well as tailoring my own plan will.
I really want to lose all the baby weight this time around, and be healthy. Part of it is that I am just uncomfortable in my own skin. None of my clothes fit, I don’t like going out in public, and I feel awkward in my own body. But another part of is that I’m really seeing the consequences of living an unhealthy lifestyle, probably for the first time. I’m on about six daily medications, I feel depressed and lethargic all the time, I don’t have the energy or the endurance to keep up with my kids, and the deluge of health problems I’ve had in the end of my pregnancy and the last seven postpartum weeks have just drained me. The idea of another pregnancy terrifies me, because physically, I’m a broken-down wreck. I really need to get my body healthy before asking it to support another human being again.
I’ve decided to make my own plan this time, and to tackle areas where I struggle first, making my goal control and restraint over what I eat and how active I am instead of weight loss. I’m going to move really slow — excruciatingly slow, even, to make sure that these changes don’t fade into the trash heap of “failed diet schemes” but become ingrained as habits. First, I’m going to make 2 small changes in my eating habits a month. Second, I’m going to slowly increase my activity monthly. So for the rest of November, I’m going to do 2 simple things with my diet: not have seconds, no matter how hungry I am or how good something tastes, and only eat 1 sweet thing a day. Sweets are really my Achilles’ heel, and I’ve done way too much ping-ponging between swearing off all sugar and eating every brownie as fast as I can make it. I know that a sudden, drastic change when it comes to sugar has not ever and probably will not ever work for me, so slow tapering will have to be my strategy if I really want to change. As far as seconds go, I’m honestly not that gluttonous when it comes to meals, but I think it’s just a good habit to get into if my goal is to temper how much and what I eat. Next month I’m thinking I’ll work on cutting out snacking (or at least limiting it) and decreasing my carbohydrate intake.
For exercising, I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing: 30 minutes of walking/jogging daily. I’m gradually trying to increase the length of the “jogging” portions of my daily exercise, but I’ll keep the total time the same. Next month I’ll add 15 minutes of exercise and 10 minutes of stretching onto my daily total.
I’m not going to do a regular post series or anything on this, but it occurred to me that some of you might be similarly frustrated in your weight loss goals and might be interested in joining me on the slow and steady path. If anyone shows some interest, I’ll probably do one post on it at the beginning of the month, stating new goals, and then one post at the end with results, reflections and maybe some ideas for the next month. Let me know in the combox if you have any interest. Otherwise, I’ll just muse on how it’s going occasionally. Or not, if I completely implode and fall off the wagon, a la the mayor in Chocolat.