Thursday, January 28, 2010

All or Nothing Thinking– Tips for Getting off the “On Plan” “Off Plan” Rollercoaster

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So this week’s study materials got me thinking about how our thought patterns can be road blocks on a journey to better health, specifically the dichotomous thinking or better known as “all or nothing” thinking or “black and white” thinking that many people struggle with.  

How I can recall the days where this kind of thinking would derail me from healthy habits. Scenario would normally play out like this: I would eat a healthy for a day or two, then would have one unhealthy food item and would throw the whole healthy plan, including any exercise I might have been attempting, out the window because I felt like I blew it and would just think well I blew it so now I shouldn’t worry about eating right for the next meal, day, week, month, etc. I went through this cycle for years. Sometimes I would loose a bit of weight but once I “blew it”, the weight came back plus some.

I think that one of the biggest things that led to my success on my journey has been that I have been able to change my thinking patterns. There is no “on plan” or “off plan” for me anymore, which has eliminated that horrible negative self talk caused by feeling guilty for being off plan. My book refers to negative thinking like that as cognitive quicksand because it is so easy to get sucked into doing it and not being able to easily get out of the negative thinking pattern. For me now, there is just a collection of healthy habits with moderation. There is no beating myself up, no guilt for what I eat or guilt for a missed workout.  There are moments where I eat stuff like cake, ice cream, pizza, and French fries. There are days I miss a workout. But there are many, many more days where I don’t miss my workouts, and where my eating is very healthy. 

So you want off the “On Plan” “Off Plan” Rollercoaster too?  Well check out my tips below. Keep in mind that they include changing your ways of thinking, which take practice, so don’t be surprised that it will likely take you a while to master them and see results.

Tip #1: Don’t Demonize Foods

Stop creating that list in your head where you categorize foods as either “bad” or “good”.  It seems to be human nature that the minute we say something it “bad” and off limits to us we instantly will want it. It also seems that when we do give in and have something we have labeled as “bad” we go crazy and try to consume as much as we can because we think it’s the last time we are going to have it. Remove the labels of “good” and “bad” and you remove the nasty mind trick of needing willpower to give up something.

Tip #2: Stop using Exercise as a Punishment

How often do you have a moment where you overeat or you eat something that isn’t really all that healthy and to make up for it you kill yourself with a workout as punishment for it? When you do this you are creating this negative association between exercise and punishment. Probably not the best thing to do if you want to have exercise be part of your healthy plan (which is what you want by the way ). Exercise should be a positive and rewarding experience and when you associate it as a punishment you pretty much make it impossible for your mind to associate it as something good. 

Tip #3: Eat to Workout Instead of Workout to Eat

Here is a big clue if you are working out to eat….you complete a good workout and then convince yourself since you did such a good job you can eat that not so healthy choice afterward. You are using food as a reward in this case and ultimately undoing most of the work you just did. Another clue you are working out to eat is that on days you workout the amount you eat or the health quality of what you eat is much different than days you don’t. So how do you change that and start eating to workout? Well for me it was making a mental shift in the way I looked at food choices. I started asking myself when choosing what to eat how and if it would help my workouts. It took time to learn what food choices would enhance my workout performances by tracking what I was eating and tracking my workout progress. There was lots of experimenting, but since everyone responds to foods differently it was very important to the process. This process also involved breaking that habit of using food as a reward. I replaced the food reward with new rewards, like new workout clothing, going to the movies out, or a new book. 

Questions for you:

  • Are there changes in thinking you have implemented that have been helpful in your better health journey?
  • What strategies do you use to climb out of the cognitive quicksand if you find yourself in a negative thinking pattern?

Well I need to get back to my busy week here at work. In my next post you will see some information on a health issue I am currently dealing with and how it relates to my fitness level. See you then!

Quote of the Day: “Negativity sucks away energy. If part of the negativity stems from your attitude or perspective, commit yourself at the beginning of each day and each activity to find something positive in yourself and in others around you. If the people around you are negative and you can't change that, either remove yourself from the situation or view it simply as one obstacle you face in pursuing your own potential. Stay focused on your own goals and make the best of the situation.” ~ Terry Orlick

Monday, January 25, 2010

Week #17- Behavior Change & Psychology & Test Date Scheduled

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Well hello everyone! It’s kind of a yucky day here, so different than it was last week. Only positive it is fairly warm, but the monsoon type rain is making it quite a blah day. Hopefully it will clear up soon cause days like this are a struggle for me mood wise. Anyway, last week was jammed packed for me. I even ended up working on Sat for about 4 hours to run training for students who are interested in working for me next year. This is a new requirement for new applicants so it means I have had to create the training from the ground up. I have spent a lot of time since I got back from holiday break working on it. Was a great training and well worth all the hard work I put into getting it together. That is one thing I really enjoy, putting together and running training sessions. Guess that is a good thing considering I have interest in working as a personal trainer in the future. My current job has lots of cross over skills that will be helpful with personal training.

Well as always since it is Monday, that means To Do List time!

Week #17- Behavior Change & Psychology
  • Manual: Pages 409-422
  • Workbook: Pages 127-129
  • Master the Manual: Pages 101-104
  • Audio: Chapter 15
  • Flashcards: Chapter 15
  • Online Review: Chapters 13-15
So, I set a goal last week to schedule my certification test which I am glad to report that I did. I will be taking my test on March 13th. I will be done covering all new materials in the Manual by Feb 15th, so that will give me close to a month to review everything in-depth before my test. I also scheduled the test on that date because I will be off work the week leading up to it so that means I should have plenty of time to get extra study hours in.

My goal this week is to get a 90% or better on the online review for Chapters 13-15. Should be able to swing that, especially since the materials are in areas I have already been exposed to many times through my current work experience and during my college degree studies.

This week’s chapter has been really interesting. Lots of good information on helping support someone that is making changes for better fitness/health. I really found the section on the “all or nothing” thinking patterns that some people get into to be quite enlightening, especially since I struggled with that in my past. One of the great benefits for me personally while working on this certification has been how much I have been able to learn and incorporate into my own healthy lifestyle plan.     

Well I have another busy week here at work so I better get back to it! Hope you all have a great week.

Quote of the Day:  "If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results." ~Jack Dixon

Monday, January 18, 2010

Week #16: Communication & Teaching

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Good evening everyone! Well today has been a great day mood wise for me. I think it might have to do with the fact it’s been much warmer and the sun was shining brightly all day long.  Even though I know it likely won’t last for long it is a nice break from the normal blah winter weather we get.  Well it is Monday, so we all know what that means…To Do list time!

Week #16- Communication and Teaching
•    Manual: Pages 389-407
•    Workbook: Pages 121-123
•    Master the Manual: Pages 95-100
•    Audio: Chapter 14
•    Flashcards: Chapter 14

Well like I report most weeks studying is going quite well. Most weeks I have at least one full day where I get a chance to do an overall review of everything.  I’m feeling pretty good overall about the material, which is good because it won’t be too much longer until I’m taking the test.  I looked into scheduling my test and I have two dates in March I’m debating on. My goal is to make a choice and schedule it by next week.

So some other related news. Over the weekend I got my CPR/AED certification! It is a requirement to have that current when you take the Personal Training Certification. So now I’m all set with that. I spent Saturday completing the training and test. Included was also basic first aid, which now I’m certified with that for the next three years. My CPR/AED certification will have to be renewed yearly.  Now that I have it I can register for my PT test.

Other than that nothing too exciting has been going on with me. I was really sick last week with the worst stomach flu I have had in over ten years. I am so glad that is over. My partner, Gina, did the greatest thing for me while I was sick. I asked her to pick up some staples for me like soup and Gatorade. I only asked for grape flavor for the Gatorade and she took it upon herself to get me the lower sugar kind. I didn’t even ask she just did it! I was really impressed because that shows to me that not only does she know my health goals she also pays attention on the strategies I employ to reach them.  She’s the greatest!

Well I only have a couple hours of free time before I have to head to my staff meeting with my staff so I should make good use of it and get some relaxing in. Hope you all have a great week!

Quote of the Day: “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence. “ ~ Helen Keller

Friday, January 15, 2010

Processing My 60% Total Body Weight Loss

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Well happy Friday everyone! I know that I have been fairly quiet lately with only posting my weekly To Do lists on Monday, but now that the semester is finally underway and I’m getting back into my routine, time management is becoming easier so that means more blog time. The first thing that normally gets cut from my schedule when I’m under more time constraints is my internet time. So I thought I would take some time to process something I have been thinking about quite a bit lately.

If you got a chance to read my post on Monday you may have noticed that I mentioned that in the past 3 years I have lost a little over 60% of my total body weight. When I watched the last episode of last season’s Biggest Loser I was curious about what my total weight loss percentage was so I ran my numbers. Yeah I admit it I watch Biggest Loser, and yeah I have my issues with it at times, but I still find it motivational. I have watched every season and likely will continue until the show is no longer on TV. I have found I watch it from a very different point of view than I did when I watched it when it started. One of these days I’ll post about how my point of view has changed as I have changed my own health status.  

Anyway, when the 60% came up it really took me by surprise. I mean, yeah I knew I had lost quite a bit of weight, but since my focus was more on health than strictly weight loss it took me by surprise to see that number. If anyone would have told me before I began I would loose 60% of my total body weight I would have told them they were out of their freakin minds!  So since then I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed with a lot of feelings and thoughts related to it, which when that happens I know it means it’s time to process through them. So, I figured now that I have a blog about health and fitness what a perfect place to process.

A thought that ran through my mind almost immediately was that I had to have done the math wrong. But nope, I repeated the calculation and I was right the first time. So why did I dismiss the number initially as a mistake? I thought about that question for a bit. It’s because I have trouble giving myself credit for my accomplishments and loosing that much weight and all of the better health I have gained through the process is totally a huge accomplishment. I have always been really hard on myself and have battled with this issue pretty much my whole life. I have to say I have made progress because not only can I identify when I’m being too hard on myself, I can give myself credit once I do. My hope is one day I’ll get to the point where I just give myself the credit without the whole dismissing the accomplishment first part.

 I had a few sad moments related to thinking about the 60% loss. Actually, to be honest I was in a funk for a couple days. And at one point, I even broke down and shed a few tears. So why did I get sad? I got sad because I thought about all of the lost years, the lost experiences, and all the moments I felt trapped by all that weight and health issues I had because of it. I went through this whole thought process of well if I was able to do this why the heck didn’t I do it a lot sooner or why didn’t I do something about it before I got to the point I did.  Luckily, I was able to break out of that negative thinking and was able to get positive about it. I recognize that I didn’t do it sooner or before I got to the point I did because I wasn’t ready to take on that kind of change. I fully admit that food for me during all of those years was my drug of choice. Food was my coping mechanism for handling my emotions both to current events in my life and those related to past traumatic events. The extra weight that I was carrying was my safety wall I had built to protect myself from being hurt and my way of isolating myself from the world. Also, to break the negative thinking pattern, I starting to focus on all of the great experiences I have had since bettering my health and also of all of the possible future experiences to come because I am healthy now. And finally to break out of my funk I thought about how I hope to use my experience to help others on their journey to better health. I already know that my journey had helped others already because I have several people who have heard or seen my transformation seeking me out for information and support.

During the past few weeks I also shared the fact I lost 60% of my body weight with some people I know. The best compliment was from someone I work with, which was I don’t even remember you being that heavy. I know she wasn’t just saying that to be nice, I know she really meant that. How crazy is that? When I started my current job I was a little lighter than I was at my heaviest weight. I put on about 20lbs in the first few months of working here to take me to my heaviest of 248.5lbs. I was here 5 months before I began my journey. After this conversation with this co-worker, I then realized that a large majority of the students I oversee never knew the morbid obese version of me and that more than half of them have only known the healthy me. A large portion of my students are first years meaning they just met me this August. Because of the nature of my job includes me living in the community with my students, my life can have a role modeling effect of some of them, and how great was it for me to realize that I am portraying myself as a healthy living role model. 

Ok so now that I have spent time writing about this I’m already feeling less overwhelmed and a whole heck of a lot better. Ah the power of processing feelings! How awesome is that. Well thanks for reading through my processing of my feelings. Hope you all have a great weekend! See you on Monday with my next To Do list post!

Quote of the Day: "One important key to success is self confidence. An important key to self confidence is preparation." ~ Arthur Ashe

Monday, January 11, 2010

Week #15- Adherence & Motivation / 3 Years of Healthy Living

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Happy Monday! Well this past week was quite a busy one for me at work. The week before the semester starts is always busy so after many years doing this I am used to putting in the extra time. I’m just glad that classes start today and then I can settle into a routine again.  Well to get started on that routine let’s get to this week’s To Do List.

Week #15: Adherence & Motivation
•    Manual: Pages 374-387
•    Workbook: Pages 117-118
•    Master the Manual: Pages 89-94
•    Audio: Chapter 13
•    Flashcards: Chapter 13

Sad news about last week’s review quiz, I didn’t make my goal of 90%. I got an 80%. There were 10 questions and I missed 2 of them. I didn’t miss any to chapter 11 but I missed 2 for chapter 12. Positive thing is that both of them are ones where I had debated picking the right answer when taking the quiz, so at least I wasn’t feeling like I had no idea what the answer was.  After I got my results I went and re-read the chapter again just to feel more secure in knowing the information.

In other news related to my Personal Training Certificate preparation, this coming Saturday is my CPR/AED training & testing. I will be doing that from 9am-1pm here on campus with some of the students from the Outdoor Club. One of our police officers is leading the training. I’m looking forward to it because once I have it completed I can register for my certification exam.  I looked at the dates available and I’m thinking either the 2nd or 3rd week of March.  Just have to look at my schedule at work and figure out which week is looks less busy before the Saturday the test will happen on. I want to do some intensive review and want to make sure I have plenty of time to do that.

So here is some exciting news that I didn’t get to share because I was so busy last week, Friday was my 3 year anniversary for starting my journey to better health!  I have spent a lot of time over the weekend thinking about how much my life has changed in those 3 years because of the choice I made to focus on bettering my health. Below is a list of a couple I thought I would share.

•    I actually sleep a full 8 hours and feel rested afterward
•    I have a more optimistic outlook on life
•    Instead of looking forward to a day off of work to lay on the couch to watch TV, I look forward to a day off so I can workout longer
•    I now look forward to buying clothing
•    My Seasonal Depression is much more manageable
•    I can look in the mirror and actually like what I see
•    I have figured out to put myself first and still give to others
•    I no longer live to eat, I now eat to live
•    I no longer dread social situations or avoid them because I’m embarrassed about my physical shape
•    I no longer fear that not going to make it to age 40
•    I have learned to have healthy boundaries with family, friends, and romantic partners
•    I feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally than I ever have
•    I no longer worry about fitting into seats at movies, on airplanes, etc.
•    I have lost 60% of my total body weight which means I when from morbid obesity to the healthy range


My full list is a lot longer but I thought those would be enough to share. It is just amazing to me to sit down and recognize all of the ways my life has changed.  It has been a challenging road but one I am so glad I made the choice to travel. Like my father tells me every time I see him, I did myself the biggest favor I could have ever done.

Well I should get going. I’m ready to relax for the day, so that means getting off this computer. Hope you all have a great evening.

Quote of the day: "We have time for whatever we choose to do, so let's own our choices!"~ Dr. Mia Cary

Monday, January 4, 2010

Week #14: Special Populations & Health Concerns

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Good afternoon everyone! I know I kind of have been MIA lately here in the blog world but I’m back to my normal schedule so I will be back to commenting and reading everyone’s blogs now. I had the last two weeks off from work and during that time I took a bit of a break from being online for hours a day.  Was a great break from the daily grind, and was nice to spend time relaxing. No worries about me slacking on my studying though, I actually did a pretty intensive review last week since I had so much free time on my hands.
As in normal Monday tradition it is time for my To Do list for the week. So let’s get to it!

Week #14: Special Populations & Health Concerns
•    Manual: Pages 345-369
•    Workbook: Pages 107-113
•    Master the Manual: Pages 83-88
•    Audio: Chapter 12
•    Flashcards: Chapter 12
•    Online review Quiz: Chapters 11 & 12

So once again I have an online review quiz. So far I have gotten two 90% and one 95% on these. I’m shooting for 90% again this week. I’m thinking that shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish. Like I said above I did an intensive review of all y materials last week. This included reading each chapter again, review of the workbook materials, and all the flashcards. I feel like by the time I get to take my test I should be set to go with the materials.  Speaking of which I should check into scheduling my test here soon since I only have 6 more chapters of materials to cover.

Boy is time flying with this study plan and before I know it I will be taking the test and hopefully become a certified personal trainer. This is really exciting to me since this is a huge goal I set for myself about 2 years ago. My plan after I get the PT certification is to work on Lifestyle & Weight Management Consultant Certification through ACE.  Hopefully, I can have that complete by the time summer roles around and I am off contract from my current job so I can look from some part time work as a trainer.

Anyway I should get going. I have dinner to get ready.  Hope everyone has a great evening!

Quote of the Day: “Money is the most envied, but the least enjoyed. Health is the most enjoyed, but the least envied.” ~ Charles Caleb Colton