Friday, September 23, 2016

A Loser's Lessons

What motivates you to try?

I was never a big fan of slow and steady. I can’t slow down -- I’m raising children! It’s a sprint ‘til college. You go, go, go every day. You take care of them, try to keep them safe, fed and educated. You try to capture the milestones, do your best to plan and arrange to make things special for them. First birthday parties, Christmases, monster cupcakes for the Halloween classroom festivities; everything has to be made with love. And still, we blink and there’s so much we miss.

I recently learned the hard way I need to slow down and take one day at a time. In everything I do.

I wanted to lose weight, but was never consistent with any eating or exercise plan. At picnics and parties, there was no way to eat anything healthy except the crudité—usually served with luscious ranch dip. I accepted food I didn’t want to eat out of politeness. When I was feeling down, I indulged in self-pity eating and creamy lattes. I had a rotten relationship with food. Like most "clean plate" moms, I hated to see food wasted and became the leftover-eating queen of my house. Last year, after receiving ugly cholesterol numbers, I knew I needed to change.

As motivation, I entered a Biggest Loser Challenge at work. It was a 12-week challenge. I had done it before and lost a grand total of three pounds. This time, I promised myself, it would be different. So I asked advice from the previous BL winner. They told me: Treat the BL Challenge as a marathon. As a long and grueling race. One that you may not win, but one that you will finish. Most of all--stay the course; keep your emotions steady. Ew? Was the advice?!

The BL coordinator offered this: Eat healthy, exercise and have fun! She made it sound easy. For more motivation, we were divided into two teams—the winning team would get some cash. I rushed into the Challenge thinking all I needed was a little self-control. 

 Towards the end, just when I thought I was doing great, I stumbled.

In the final weeks, I behaved as though I had already crossed the finish line. I was sliding the medal around my neck, celebrating, happy dancing. And then sabotaged all my good weight loss efforts by rewarding myself with food treats, letting an exercise session or two slide away. The pounds crept back on. Any marathoner will tell you this moment of do or die is the dreaded “mile twenty” -- with less than several miles to go, within sight of the goal, you lose focus and muscles start to seize up. Many runners end up quitting.

So I slowed down. Literally.

I ate slower, I walked instead of ran. I sipped rather than gulped my coffee. And I thought of all kinds of ways to make this BL thing a permanent lifestyle change, not a once and done competition. I learned that without any sort of external stimulus, significant weight loss is hard to do. We need something external to reset our internal compass. Whether it be a gym membership, walking the new puppy every day, buying a new wardrobe, or getting a cholesterol panel—it has to be an intimate and important investment of your time, talent and $$ or you’re setting yourself up for failure.

I also noticed that while encouragement from the Team (people in the same boat) is great for weight loss, it can let you down. A weight loss buddy or fitness app will help keep you accountable. And you’ll get support. But here at work, where the atmosphere is already highly-competitive, when someone won a week or a month, there were very few good wishes or encouragement. Teams were starving themselves, “hangry” and aching to quit. We all hit our “mile twenty” mark at the same time. Team members stopped talking to each other. They deleted the weight loss support emails. A few team members went AWOL during lunch (the office is right next to: McD’s, BK, Dunkin, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, Red Robins and Taco Bell) instead of working out together. Team players became team haters. There was a black cloud of bitchiness that hung over the office scale.

This negative behavior was a priceless life lesson for me. I cannot lose weight to make other people happy, gain their acceptance or good graces. They’ll dislike me skinny or fat. I have to do it for myself. I have to want to make the change in me. Or else, I’ll be eating a breakfast burrito, an enchilada and a double-cheese-bacon burger all before lunch. And be dead before dinner.

Above all, I reminded myself, we’re moms!  We can always slow down and hug our “motivators!” Words like, “I love you mommy,” get me through nearly every life “marathon” I will encounter.

I want to lose weight for them. Because I want to be able to have the energy and stamina to be with them—fast or slow--even beyond college.

Relax Mommies, You've got this!

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