I absolutely cannot even begin to tell you how much I enjoy reading your blog. I love your style, I love your honesty, I love your story. I have been dealing with overeating for about 10 years but didn’t realize that is the problem I had until about 2 years ago.
My question is …. how did you continue day in and day out on the right track to let yourself lose that 135lbs? I really feel like losing weight you have to be consistent. You can work hard for days / weeks but easily undo all of that work in just a short amount of time and end up nowhere. I guess that is my issue, I keep ending up nowhere.
How did 9 out of 10 times you choose the healthy option while losing? How did you not make drive through runs at Wendy’s, eat a whole pizza and so on? How did you STICK TO IT? I feel like I KNOW what to do. I KNOW how to eat, what to etc. There is NO lack of knowledge or accessibility to the right foods. It’s just doing it.
Whether it is praying, reading, writing, meditating, exercising…all of the above, I need to find something that helps get me through. I feel like I am a strong person I can do just about anything I set my mind to but not this. It’s still got a tight hold on me. For now least.
Thank you so much for emailing me, for being so kind. I’m sorry it has taken this long for me to get back to you. I receive about 100 personal, blog-related emails everyday, so I sometimes get behind.
This is a great question and I guess it’s the most important one, huh?
Where to start….
Define Your Deepest Desires- ON PAPER.
It’s not about a specific diet, not a plan, not quitting everything that tastes delightful cold turkey. It’s just listening to your body and your heart. Doing all the things you know you should be doing- like moving it for thirty minutes a day or eating vegetables with dinner- and letting that momentum drive you onward and downward to your goal. There are small changes that make a world of difference. But the real work starts upstairs in your mind. Put pen to paper, get unbearably honest with yourself, and write down two lists: what you want out of your life and yourself and what obstacles are in your way to living that life. Spend time with those lists; look them over; analyze the columns. Use adjectives for how you want to feel- energetic, positive, and productive. Think about the things you could add to your life, or the things you could do, to make those adjectives the way you feel everyday. I did this.
I made lists and wrote a letter to myself. I exposed every nook and cranny of doubt and fear and anger and resistance and hope. And then I made one final list. But this one contained the small steps and additions that would allow me to move into those optimistic adjectives I’d written. The list stated things like, ‘walk for 10 minutes in the morning before starting the day, walk for 10 minutes after dinner, take the stairs, make half of my dinner plate filled with vegetables, add an apple everyday, drink 5 glasses of water, ask Kate if she wants to meet for a walk in the afternoon, take a pause each night before bed when I’m really craving not one, but four packs of Ring Dings and ask myself why I’m dying for them, switch to whole grains.’ They were manageable. I could do these things.
Think about it, we make ‘To Do’ lists all the time of things we need to accomplish outside of ourselves. Why not make one for your mind and body? I can’t tell you how much this helped me. Because even if you think you know all about your goals, your obstacles, your wishes and desires for your life, you really see more when it’s inked on paper. Lots of times we have big ideas floating around in our heads and we think they’re formulated and supported without question, but when you really force yourself to articulate those things- to assemble them into coherent facts and figures- you see so much more. Some of them aren’t true and you realize you’ve been toting around a duffle bag of false information for the last five years. Some of them allow you to read more deeply into who you are and how you’re hurting.
Whatever you want this year- to lose weight, to find a more fulfilling job, financial stability, stronger friendships- know that they’re not unattainable. Having a big, beautiful picture of the future in the clouds of your head is unbelievably helpful.
Make a Vision Board.
For real. Get out your photo albums, your magazines, and your glue stick. Get a poster board. (They’ve really gone up in price, somewhat surprisingly).
Cut out and slap on that board all of the following: pictures that inspire you- beaches, gorgeous scenery that makes you want to be out and doing and exploring, people laughing, folks dressed all dolled up in a way you wish you were, photos of you smiling with friends, quotes that make you feel something, clothing, water, words.
This board is not only therapeutic in the making, but it also serves as a reminder of all that you dream. All that you want to feel and be and do in the next year. Make it goal-oriented. Make it something that gets you going, just upon first glance.
Note: I do not care if you feel too old to do this. I do not care if you haven’t a glue stick. CVS does. The reason we buy magazines, most often, is for inspiration and ideas. This vision/dream board is your own magazine. It’s full of pictures and language that inspires you- specifically you. Maybe put it in your closet so that you don’t feel like a high schooler taping it to your wall. Maybe look at it every morning, and every night, and remember your dreamy future.
Take each day, each minute as its own individual moment. Do not think too far back, do not think too far ahead. This is incredibly strange at first. Most of us are planners, we’re multitaskers, we’re thinking about what happened that time with that thing at that place, we’re not in the moment. Years ago, when I first lost the weight, I felt gravely depressed. I realized that I had been sad for much of my life but had eaten away the sadness. At that time, my first experience not having food to numb me, I had to sit with emotions I’d rather not face without Ring Dings. I missed food as a support system and friend.
That year, 2007, maybe? I read every self help book on the shelves at Barnes and Noble. And by every book, I mean:
eve-ry: (adj): Constituting each and all members of a group without exception.
I read books on trusting myself, on listening to my body, on eating disorders, memoirs on being overweight, diet books with prescriptive advice sections, and trust me: the very best were by author Geneen Roth. Her writing, “When Food is Love,” “Feeding the Hungry Heart,” “Appetites,” etc…those books have changed my life.
But one book, not specifically related to weight loss, really helped me to become more mindful: “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. This book showed me how crucial it is to stay in the present moment at all times. So many of the pains we feel, the discomfort of being, is related to thinking of the past or planning for the future. We feel overwhelmed by all we have to do, all we have to deal with in life, and we spend lots of energy rehashing the past and thinking about ways to be better. The key is to just stop that. Understandably, not easy to do. But it’s possible. You’ll find yourself less overwhelmed by the big picture- all the weight we have to lose, all the exercise we have to do today and tomorrow and the next day and the next after that. By just focusing on the minute by minute (with a gentle mind to the future and an acknowledgment of our history), we just deal with ‘what is.’
I learned to move through my day by trying to stay in the moment. Yes, I kept a big dreamy vision above me of all I hoped to be someday, but I only kept the positive parts. I hung on to the helpful, hopeful dream of a future healthy me- content and confident- and tossed the negativity- the dread and daunting 135lbs I had to lose- away like last week’s trash. I asked myself, every single day, every single moment, “Can you get through this moment right now without bingeing? Can you make the healthy choice just for today?”
And, almost all of the time, I could. I put little stock into tomorrow. I tried to not let the idea that I’d have to exercise daily overwhelm me enough that I wanted to quit exercising altogether. Dreading the future would only stop me from acting now. If you’re on the treadmill, being active and kind to your heart, and you’re already telling yourself you can’t continue to do this for the rest of the week, you’re just placing a huge burden on the here and now. Tomorrow maybe you’ll find something else, some other way to move. Tomorrow maybe you won’t be so tired. Tomorrow you might feel inspired after reading a magazine article, or seeing a picture of a sequined dress on Facebook (not me!).
Hard as it may seem, I just tried to be present and take each day as it came. Everyday, I journaled- two things: what I ate and what I felt. I did this at the very end of the day, when I typically wanted to eat a dozen cupcakes. The checking in and recounting of my day usually made me feel accomplished and proud. It made me not want to undo all of the progress I’d made that day. I smiled into that notebook.
And then, the next day, I started it anew. Everyday asking myself, “Can you do it today, Andie? Just today?”
Because even if I blew the whole previous day with a double-drive-thru binge, no matter. Today is not yesterday or the day before.
Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around.