Tag Archives: weight loss

Some Musings on Motivation and #ROW80

And when I say musings, I mean that I’m looking at some things that I’ve done right, and trying to figure out how the hell that happened.

There are three big things I’ve done in the last several years that I can easily point to and say: these are things which required a lot of motivation and I made them happen.

  1. Got my house together– When my daughter was finally done nursing and I was once again free to move about the cabin, I really did a lot of work to get my home in order. It was the first time in our marriage (about 15 years at that time, I guess) that we lived without any cardboard boxes in view. I decluttered, I cleaned up, I got routines together, and when disasters happened (as they did daily as I had a toddler around) I was able to take care of them and get things back to order.
  2. Wrote a book– Meaning I finished it. I started at the beginning and I wrote until the end. And it was even good. I made an outline, I had a list of scenes, and I tried to write at least one every day. I didn’t write every day, but I averaged more than one and I finished 30 days after I started. No putting it aside 2/3 in and starting something else, no putting writing aside to pick up another activity.
  3. Lost weight– I got married while I was still in college. Between the weight everyone gains in college and the weight everyone gains when first married, I was kinda screwed. My senior year I made a big effort at diet and exercise and lost half of what I’d gained those four years. But after that it was a slow but steady increase until I got pregnant almost a decade later. After losing enough of the baby weight to get out of maternity clothes and back to a size 14, I pretty much maintained 160-165 for a number of years. Today I weighed in at 127.5, a weight I haven’t seen this century.

So if I went through this period where I was good a keeping up my house, why is my house a wreck? Why am I always struggling with this? What am I doing wrong?

Why did it take me a month to write the first draft of Hush Money and close to ten months for Heroes ‘Til Curfew?

If I have the self-discipline to just say no to binges, over-eating, stress-eating, etc., why can’t I seem to apply that in other areas?

This is stuff I’ve been thinking. Reading about motivation can be confusing. A lot of it seems to come down to this concept: You just have to really want it. I can’t make you want it.

Well, um, I think I do want it. That’s why I’m here. I don’t know how to make myself want it anymore than this. I’m not even sure I’m comfortable with the notion of a greater level of want. That doesn’t seem like it’s going to help with my crazy level.

I mean, did I not want to write Heroes ‘Til Curfew? Of course I did. Did I want it enough? I think so.

It’s hard to talk about this stuff because nothing happens in a vacuum. I was better at housekeeping when I wasn’t also trying to run an Etsy shop or a writing career. I was better and just writing when I wasn’t in the throes of second book syndrome. There are definitely other factors at work.

But other people manage do more than one thing at a time, and I’d like to as well, so I’m looking at these three successes and trying to figure out what they had in common.

  1. When I was good at housekeeping, my goal was not to have a perfect or even beautiful home. I did not own the house I lived in, I knew I couldn’t afford to make the improvements it needed. It was never going to beautiful, but I was going maintain it and keep it as clean and comfortable as I could. The goal was not on the end result, it was on the process of making it better and maintaining the progress.
  2. When I was good at getting a book written, my goal was not to produce the greatest book ever. I had no standard I was going for, except for it to be finished and as good as I could make it. The goal was not on the end result, it was on the process of writing a book from beginning to end.
  3. When I was good at losing weight, I never had a goal weight. I might have said, I’d like to lose x amount, or I’d like to be x by the end of the summer, but those were just things I would throw out in conversation, like wishes. They were never subgoals of some greater endgame I was trying to achieve. In fact, when I did really start to lose weight, it wasn’t about losing weight, it was about changing my eating habit. The goal was not on the end result, it was on the process of learning to be mindful about eating and making better choices.

The goal was not on the end result, it was on the process.

That’s what I’ve pulled out of this. I’m not sure what it means, what to do with it, how to apply it. Not yet. Plenty of people do great by focusing on an end result and breaking that down into smaller tasks. I don’t think I’m that person. Some people make the decision to change their actions and they follow through. I don’t. When I tell myself to do stuff, most of the time I just don’t.

Maybe because it’s always easier to just stay where I am.

I’ve already determined that I need to change my thoughts before I can change my actions. Now I’ve determined that thinking about my goals as big end result things, or even smaller, successive results, doesn’t really work for me either.

What is going to work for me? Still don’t know. But if I figure it out, I’ll pass it on.

#ROW80: I have 10 threads for Heroes Under Siege. My goal for the week is to make sure I understand what happens in each one from beginning to end and how they interweave. That’s going well so far as I’m at 7/10 mostly done. I’d like to start brainstorming specific events and jotting down scenes next week.

Meanwhile, I should have a guest post up over at Book Lovers, Inc. today. The post is about taking something often considered boyish–superheroes–and taking it for Team Girl. And there’s a giveaway. Go, read, comment, make it look like people like me.

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My Husband Says I Can’t Spell Discipline or How I Have Been Failure’s Bitch

This is a running joke at our house, and the joke’s on me because I did just reference a tab along the top of my screen to check my spelling as I typed this post’s title. Every time the word discipline comes out of my mouth in his presence, he puts on his best Marine Corps voice and says, “Discipline? You can’t even spell discipline.”

Maybe the problem here is that I’ve learned to laugh at myself in this respect and it’s really not funny. Maybe it’s really fucking up my shit.

So it’s GIT Tuesday and my Goddess in Training stuff has been about changing my thoughts and creating better habits. That’s why Kristen Lamb’s post: Self-Discipline- The Key to Success really got me thinking. If you haven’t read it, you should, and if you do it now then this post will make more sense.

Kristen proves her point about self-discipline being necessary by showing us a list of highly successful authors who went to top schools, were highly successful in other fields– were in freaking Congress. Immediately I feel hopeless. Well crap. Let’s hope you can be moderately successful if you’re just moderately intelligent and far less awesome. That would be one of those thinking habits I need to work on. Kristen says,

“Successful people are willing to get up earlier, stay up later, work harder and never stop. They will outpace their competition every time. Why? Because self-discipline isn’t a once in a while thing, “Oh, I was so good today.” Self-discipline is the foundation of the successful life….not an accessory worn when we feel particularly inspired.”

Know who embodies that? Kait Nolan. And now I get why Kait and Kristen click so well together. So I read on.

The post goes on to give some do’s and don’ts for this, and they’re a lot like the weight loss stuff. Don’t jump into some crazy exercise thing and hurt yourself, start small and build. Don’t set goals that set you up for failure.

And then she talks about failure, about changing your relationship with failure. Man, I am failure’s bitch. I wrote a book last year I actually let other people read. HUGE step. You get that. I’m almost forty years old and I’m just getting to this point in my life where I’m actually finishing things. Because for most of my life I’ve been caught up in this perfectionism where I don’t finish anything. Because once something’s finished, it’s time to put it out there for other people to judge. But if you never finish anything, you never have to face having it rejected.

Tangent: Remember Pitfall for Atari 2600? With twenty minutes on the clock, you’re moving this guy across the screen, trying to pick up treasure. And when you fail to clear an obstacle, it loses you a little bit of time (and points). There were only a few different kinds of screens and obstacles that would keep repeating and every once in a while there’d be a treasure. I thought (and I’ve no idea if it’s true, probly not), that you could have a perfect game where you’d go to the right at full speed, never hit an obstacle, and eventually circle back to the start of the game–come out on the left side of the first screen.

I started playing the game to have a perfect game. And any time I hit an obstacle, I’d reset and start over. I never got very far and I don’t think I got any better at the game. And I started playing other games that way, too. Lose a man too early? Well, I’ll never make high score now. Reset.

Reset. Reset. Reset. How many unfinished games? How many unfinished stories?

Yeah, I was failure’s bitch. I’ve got a degree in Psychology, never looked at grad schools or applied for a job in that field. I’ve got a degree in Fashion Design. Completed my course work for that and went RIGHT BACK to full time at the sweat shop I’d been sewing in. But you know, I think that might be changing. The last few years I’ve forced myself into a willingness to try, to expose myself to the possibility of failure. And a lot of good things have happened.

Some of the habits that worked in conjunction with the perfectionism thing and never finishing anything are things Kristen brings up in her post under the heading: Don’t Let The Feelings Vote. I’m reading:

Guilty…

Guilty…

Guilty…

Okay, so I can see the problem. Now what? Once I started gaining weight, 20 years of resets of the next week I’m going to start this awesome diet and exercise program variety didn’t work for me. I weighed in the other day saw and have been at the same healthy weight for the last few months.

Kristen says not to wait until your feelings change to change your actions. I’m not disagreeing with her at all. I’m just looking at me and I’m thinking maybe the reason this stuff never seems to work for me is just because I need to change my thinking before I can change my actions consistently. When I changed my thoughts about a lot of the eating stuff, I started refusing some of the overeating and bad foods more consistently, and started shedding weight.

So maybe this is why that thing of just saying I’m going to write X words every day (even just 250), or sit down for X amount of time doesn’t seem to work for me. Because discipline? I no haz it.

Only I do. Yesterday I knew I was going out to dinner and I told Kait I was going to go eat a whole burger. Calorie-wise I was probably within my rights. So I went out and ordered a burger with a side of apples. Burger came and I cut it in half–a great habit which also makes it easier for my little mouth and little hands. Picked up the second half of the burger, actually said, “I’m going to eat the second half of this burger,” and then stopped. Thought, I’m not hungry right now. Why am I doing this? and asked the waiter for a box.

So I do have self-discipline, like Kristen said I do. I am capable of that. I can now do many reps of curls with 1/3lb cheeseburgers without pain. I just have to figure out what works for me for the rest of it. All this stuff that I read, all these “secrets of motivation,” it all seems to skip a step. They all say, “if you want it badly enough.” Well, I don’t know about that. I at least want to want to be better.

I can’t seem to just say to myself, “I’m going to do the dishes every day.” Because myself says, “Fuck you. I’m tired. I’m going to watch TV and see if Andrew’s on IM.” (Even though, please note, I know Andrew does his dishes because he says this on IM and yet I’m not inspired by his example.) I can’t seem to say to myself, “I’m going to work on my outline every day this week,” because myself says, “Eh, I can’t really think of anything that would be good today. I’ll make it up on a day I’m really on. I have a lot of other things I need to do anyway.” And then I’m all, “But we said were gonna–” “Um, fuck you I said not right now, okay?”

Okay, geez. Bite my head off, myself. Damn, she’s bitchy.

So anyway, this can’t be just me. Anyone else have this missing link thing going on? I’m going to cogitate on where my thought process is going wrong while I go wash some dishes.

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I have too much crap

It’s GIT Tuesday. Things are going okay. School starts tomorrow and while I haven’t gotten everything done I wanted to do, things are better.

You know how you get Netflix in the little red envelopes and then you put them back in there and send them back. But you can also send two back in the same mailer. So the other day my husband asked me about all the Netflix mailers I have in the basket. And I explained how every once in a while I send two back in the same one, blah blah. “So you’re just saving the extra ones for emergencies?”

Um, I guess so. I mean, that’s dumb, right? Why am I holding on to these things?

Holding on to things is a problem. I hold on to so much stuff just in case I’m going to need it again. I have a drawer with jeans in every size from 4 to 16. What the hell?

Letting go of things is good. I’ve done it before and I know this. It’s just one of those things that doesn’t come naturally. But when I declutter, when I have less stuff, things are much better. There’s more space to, you know, live and stuff. I don’t know why the decision to give up stuff is so hard when the actually giving it up and living without it really isn’t.

So back to the weight loss thing, here are some things I gave up:

  • Drinking calories. The only exception is that I try to drink a glass of milk at dinner most days. Otherwise it’s water and diet stuff.
  • Diet Coke. I didn’t give it up, but late this winter I kicked at 5-6 per day habit down to a 0-2 per day habit. I think the loss of all that sodium from my diet has made my weight more stable, not ever-changing due to water retention.
  • Ordering french fries. We go out to eat every Sunday with my parents, plus my mom and I go out a few times a month, plus I have a child who likes the fast food playgrounds. I have plenty of fries with that opportunities in my life. At fast food I just say no. At a sit-down restaurant I ask to substitute something green. It’s never a problem. If someone else has fries and they look particularly good, I’ll snag one, but I don’t need fries with that. I think this has actually made a big difference. I’m a big fan of the carbs and fries are definitely one of the good things in life. But good enough to carry around on my person for years to come? No.
  • Being full. I never eat until I can’t eat anymore. I mean, I used to, and now I can’t even figure out why I used to. For some people, that feeling equates in their mind to “satisfied.” I decided to think of it as “stuffed.” And I don’t want to stuff. I eat because I’m hungry. To get unhungry. So when I find myself thinking about a second helping at home or eating much more than half of what’s on my plate at a restaurant, I try to pause and think about whether or not I’m still hungry. Since my goal is just unhungry, if I don’t feel hungry anymore, it’s time to put the fork down.

I tell you this because, as I said before, changing the way I think and actually being mindful about the eating has really helped me get back to healthy weight. Don’t know if it’ll be helpful for anyone else. Hope so. Meanwhile, I should go declutter and let go of some stuff.

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GIT Thursday

Not like I need to add another day to a blog schedule I’m already not really keeping, but I’ve been wanting to start talking about some stuff that doesn’t really fit in with the rest of it. Like, in yesterday’s post I mentioned that I’ve dropped several sizes over the course of the year. Kait talks about her commitment to weight loss and getting fit on her blog a lot, calls it Goddess in Training (GIT). And trust me, Kait’s commitment is inspiring. Mine…not so much.

But then, hey, I lost over 15 pounds this year and, like, 35 over the last 7 (my daughter just turned seven so there’s a good marker for when I was the biggest). And I need to give myself credit. I’ve made real changes that made a real difference.

Somehow I’m just figuring that out– that whole idea that the loss, which I’ve kept off all summer, despite ice cream and vacation, is a result of changes I made and applied consistently and not somehow that I’ve been lucky with my weight or it just kind of happened. (If you’ve ever heard that thing where depressed people tend to believe their lives are ruled by outside forces…yeah.)

I live in chaos. In FlyLady land, CHAOS stands for Can’t Have Anybody Over Syndrome, a condition where your home is such a wreck you have to block the door with your body just to sign for a package. Because it’s just that bad, you don’t know where to start, and even if you do blow through and clean it up, everything’s a wreck the next week because you don’t have the habits to keep it up.

So much of “having it together,” it seems to me, is about these habits.

So this morning I was thinking about how I couldn’t have actually worried away 15 pounds. I forget to eat, but I’ve been forgetting to eat for years. I just used to make up for it and then some. So what was the change? Well, there were a bunch, and some of them were changes in how I think about food. More accurately, they were me getting into the habit of THINKING about food rather than just acting on hunger and cravings. About making what I eat a thoughtful decision rather than a whim. Which is less tiresome than it sounds.

So I took control of the eating and it was good. Now if I go back a bit in the blog, I should come to a post in which I think I said that I need to work on changing the way I approach writing. I can’t be depending on things to just come to me, I need to learn to work consistently and believe that the words will come, even when I’m not in the mood. Which sounds a lot like I need to work by thoughtful decision rather than whim.

Hmmm….

The chaos is not just in my house. It’s not just about the amount of pet hair that’s on my floor right now or the dishes I’m pretending aren’t in my sink. It’s in my head. It’s in the fact that I’m so mood dependent that I seem to wait for inspiration to dictate everything I do. When and what I write, if I pick up my house, what I eat…

And hey, it’s non-optimal to say the least.

So maybe what becoming a goddess means to me is taking control over my shit. Which is scary because it feels like planning to become someone entirely different. Kait would tell me to break it down and work on one thing at a time. So I think that’s what I’m going to do and I’m going to try not to think too much on that big picture.

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