A is for Abstinence

Starting this week I am going to try something a little different. Once a week I’ll write about food, fitness, weight loss and other lifestyle type topics according to the alphabet. ย We’ll see how far I get. “X” should be interesting. ๐Ÿ™‚

A is for Abstinence

Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing a good job of “practicing what I preach.” The reason I wonder this is because I did some different things when I was trying to lose 100 pounds. I was very strict with my calories. I ate a LOT of processed foods because they were portion controlled and low in calories. The last year or so I’ve gotten away from that. I’m trying to limit the processed foods I eat and prefer to eat REAL FOOD now instead of portion controlled frozen food.

When I say “abstinence” I’m talking about the time when I was losing 100 pounds, not now that I’m in maintenance mode.

I had to go cold turkey. I had to abstain from ALL temptations. Period. It sounds like a hard feat right? It was. I went from overindulging in EVERYTHING one day to limiting everything I ate the next day. I counted everything. The butter I put on my toast. The extra half serving of Wheat Thins with my lunch. I was meticulous. It was the only way to do it.

The hardest part in losing weight for me (besides being patient with how slowย it was) was resisting my trigger foods. Ice cream and pizza. That’s what I craved, that’s what I couldn’t eat in moderation. I always went hog-wild with those two things. I knew that I couldn’t lose weight and stay on track if I had ice cream in my house at all. Period. For two years I did not buy any ice cream. Once in awhile I’d buy the Smart Ones diet desserts and I’d have those but I just didn’t trust myself with a carton of ice cream in my freezer.

One bite was such a slippery slope for me.ย As for pizza, I ate it almost weekly. I’d get a medium sized or sometimes large sized pizza delivered and I’d vow every time that I wouldn’t eat the whole thing.

“Just one more piece” I’d tell myself. And before I knew it over half the pizza was gone. So for two years I didn’t eat pizza. At all. Did I crave it? Sometimes. But usually only when I saw someone else eating pizza.

Abstinence is a funny thing. For me, once I stopped eating something I didn’t crave it as much. Another example is when I tried the Slow Carb Diet for a few weeks. I thought I wouldn’t survive not eating bread but I quickly discovered I didn’t miss it when I wasn’t eating it.

Now that I’m in maintenance mode I canย have a carton of ice cream in the freezer without the urge to eat the whole thing. I can go out for pizza and only eat a few slices. Having leftover pizza in the fridge does not mean I HAVE to eat it. It can sit there for a few days and be eaten slowly.

Abstinence helped me get to that point. Denying myself those things while I learned how to eat again gave me the clarity I desperately needed. It made me appreciate them when I did eat them in moderation.

My piece of advice (learned the hard way) is to abstain from the trigger foods that cause you trouble. If you can’t stay on track if there’s a bag of Cheetos in the house, don’t have them in the house. At least for awhile. It might be hard at first, but think about how proud and empowered you will feel by conquering that challenge!

QUESTION: Do you abstain from any specific foods in order to stay on track?

How I Stay Motivated

(This is part of the “Ask me Anything” Series.)

Ivie asked: “I would love to know what you do to motivate yourself?”

Bonnie also asked: “I think itโ€™d be interesting to read about how to stay motivated to eat healthy when all you want to do is lie on the sofa and snack on chips (obviously Iโ€™m speaking from experience).”

These are great questions and they are questions I get all the time. “Motivation” seems to be a hard one for a lot of people. For me it was an easy decision because I had to lose weight. I was developing diabetes and had a mess of other health problems. There really wasn’t any other decision for me to make than to lose the weight.

The crucial component to maintaining my weight LOSS is twofold:

1. Exercise. Moving my body 5 days a week.

2. A lifestyle change. My lifestyle has changed a great deal. Iโ€™m a different person than I was before and I like my life. I want to continue that. Just because I lost the weight doesnโ€™t mean I can sit on my butt and not do anything to keep it off!

Itโ€™s All About Balance

I LOVE working out. I grew to love the high and working out FEELS good to me. Swimming is my Zen Time. It relaxes me. It clears my mind. Running was my Aggression Time. I got a Super Runnerโ€™s High and whenever I was frustrated or mad about anything, running purged that.

Biking is my Fun time. Itโ€™s when I get to explore the city and see new places. Hiking is my Adventure Time. I love exploring the beauty that is the Oregon Wilderness.

Growing to love activities like the ones I listed above have enriched my life AND kept the weight off. Plus it’s all the motivation I need. Since I like doing these things I don’t really think about “motivation.”

Sure there are plenty of nights when I am filled with dread about going to the gym. Driving there. Parking hassles. Crowds. All the treadmills full. Annoying people. Wanting to just go home and watch TV…

Then I remind myself: “I will feel better if I work out!”

And I always do! Working out is also a habit now. It’s part of my daily life, my schedule. In fact if I miss a day my whole schedule and routine feels off.

Now for the food…I think my blog is all about BALANCE. I eat in moderation, I count my calories but I also don’t deny myself anything. If I want a treat, I eat it. I may not eat an entire piece of cheesecake by myself but I still enjoy myself. I give in to cravings all the time. But I try to figure out “healthier” ways to enjoy the things I crave.

If you’re lacking motivation, does money help or hurt? For example, if you pay $300 a year for a gym membership does that motivate you to go so you get your moneys worth? It does for me.

The Great Gym Experiment

One gym took it a step further. I recently read an article about a gym experiment run by a Harvard grad that is very intriguing.

“Groups of exercisers at two different gyms receive a free membershipโ€”if they keep to their workout schedule. If they don’t, a $25 fee applies for every week that they slip up.”

I think this is AWESOME. It’s a brilliant idea. If health and happiness don’t motivate people to work out, would this gym model do the trick?

Geniuses! I think it is a fantastic idea. As someone who is a regular gym goer, it would be great for me because I’d save money and get a great workout. On the flipside, the gyms would still make there money because they can count on the percentage of people that quit going. It’s a win-win in my eyes.

QUESTION: What do you think of this Gym Experiment? Would it work? Would it motivate you?