Open Letter to My Readers

Dearest readers (if any of you are still there),

I’m sorry to say that I’ve failed you, and I’m not so sorry to say that I’ve discovered that I really need you!

If you will take note, my last post on this blog was September 21, 2010. If any of you are pretty good at math, you’ll probably be able to quickly determine that was six months ago! During that time I unfortunately gained about 10 (more) lbs and had slacked off in the exercise department more than I ever have in my entire adult life. I didn’t even know it was possible to be so out of shape. I thought I was out of shape before, but I didn’t even know what that was! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve thought about my health a lot, made lots of great plans, followed through on about 10% of my excellent intentions, and just generally done a LOT of trying to become healthier. However, my past approach(es) clearly hasn’t “worked.” What I mean by that is that not only have I obviously not lost the weight that I need to lose, I also don’t feel like I’ve changed myself to consistently and permanently make healthier choices and I feel pretty lousy about myself quite often. To sum up, I have not seen success on any health fronts in the past several months.

I could go into a lot more detail about my various efforts and how and where I went wrong, but that would take way too long, and if you want to hear about that, just go back in the archives and start reading.

So now that we’ve established where I’ve been and where I am now, the obvious question is: What should I do next? About the only part of the answer that I’m absolutely certain about is this: Not what I’ve been doing in the past. Beyond that, I certainly don’t have foolproof plan or a guaranteed method. I’ve been thinking a LOT (and I mean a LOT) about how I should move forward. I’ve sorted through hundreds of ideas moving from the practical to the outright crazy, from the simple to the insanely complicated, etc. And I have come up with a plan, which I will share later, but I first want to address some ideas that I’ve rejected and why.

  • Rejected Idea #1: Doing exactly what has “worked” for me in the past. Obviously, when trying to determine how to go forward, I looked to things that I’ve done well in the past. I’ve lost a LOT of weight in my lifetime (only to regain each time, of course). If I hadn’t regained weight, I’d probably weigh negative-something by now! So how did I do then? Well, the ONLY times in my life that I have lost more than 5 pounds (I’ve lost around 25 pounds 5 or 6 times, I think) were when I approached weight loss with a great amount of focus and determination that included strict food logging and calorie counting, regular exercise, and some form of support such as blogging or dieting with a personal friend. Obviously, this has worked in the sense that I’ve always regained the weight. But also, it hasn’t worked in that while I have succeeded at making the numbers on the scale go down and greatly increasing the number of miles I could run before completely running out breath, my life was nearly as balanced as I needed it to be. I was spending a disproportionate amount of time, thoughts, and focused energy on weight loss activities. Don’t get me wrong, I think losing needed weight, getting  healthier, and feeling more confident in myself are worthy goals – and I shouldn’t except much change without being willing to invest a good deal of time, effort, thoughts, and energy. However, that shouldn’t consume the majority of time/thoughts, and shouldn’t interfere with other important aspects of life. I know that balance is hard to find, and I don’t really expect to ever feel like I’m completely balanced, but I do know that I’ve gone overboard in the past (which is a good part of the reason I haven’t sustained the healthy habits). So, while I toyed with the idea of going back to those ways, I ultimately rejected it for now.
  • Rejected Idea #2: Daily Calorie or Point Counting and Traditional Food Journaling Of all parts of weight loss, this one fills me with the greatest sense of dread. There are days when I really enjoy weighing the food and counting the calories and all goes well. But it quickly begins to stress me out. The constant worry about “how many calories does this have?” Am I sure I’m eating the right amount? When I make a big batch of soup, how on earth am I supposed to calculate the nutrition info when I have no idea how many servings it makes? Should I change the way I cook just to facilitate calorie counting or should I go to great lengths to find a way to weigh an entire pot of soup and then dump into a big bowl so I can weigh the pot to subtract that weight and pour it back into the pot? I mean, really! And then don’t even get me started on going to someone’s house to eat (which I do quite often) – how on earth can you even estimate those calories? I have no idea if they used heavy cream or chicken broth in their potato soup. And did I eat one cup or two cups – hard to tell in the odd shaped bowl. You get the idea. The thought of making myself consistently count calories daily makes me want to cry. So, yeah, that’s not gonna work.

That said, here’s the plan. I’m going to do these three things. If this is all I do, I will be successful, which is good, because I haven’t felt consistent success in a long time.

  • Commitment #1: Exercise! I actually enjoy exercise (sometimes to some degree). The thought of exercising actually makes me happy instead of filling me with dread. I’ve rediscovered some of my favorite exercise DVDs, the weather is getting better for outdoor walks/jogs, and the Y has gotten all their cable channels back! Fun stuff! And I’d really like to see some fitness improvements. I have found, however, that when my eating goes downhill, I start to exercise less often and with far less of my heart it in and far less intensity. I use the ridiculous all-or-nothing reasoning to make myself think it won’t do me any good because my eating is poor. Granted, my eating should be better, but the exercise is STILL beneficial even if I ate total junk food 100% of the time. Plus exercise tends to make me naturally feel more confident and makes me want healthier foods. So I will exercise 5 times this week for at least 30 minutes, and at least 3 of those sessions will be heart-pounding, all-out intense cardio!! Don’t you love how you feel after one of those sessions!?
  • Commitment #2: Blogging! This is another commitment that I’m actually excited about accomplishing! I love writing and the blog really helps me sort things out. Plus there’s some accountability there. The times I’ve done the best and lasted the longest in my weight loss efforts are the times I was blogging regularly. So many times I feel discouraged and ready to quit because I “messed up” but after taking the time “confess” and recommit in a blog post, I feel re-energized and ready to conquer the world again! So I will blog at least 4 times per week. (This post is number one for this week.) I will likely post on Monday, Wed, Thurs, and Sat, which are the days that I have the most “free” time. I’ve got tons of things I want to say since I haven’t blogged in so long, so I’m can’t wait to start sharing!
  • Commitment #3: Keep on Trying! Obviously, I’m not and I won’t give up. But what I really mean by this is that I will not succumb to the all-or-nothing mentality in eating. I will make the best decision that I can in each moment, no matter how good or bad my previous decisions were, and no matter what food challenges are upcoming. This doesn’t mean that I won’t eat sweets, nor does it mean that I won’t mess up. It just means that I will do the best I can. I know this goal is a little fuzzy and hard to measure, but, trust me, I know when I’m giving to that ridiculous, awful all-or-nothing beast. I know this is also the goal that I will have the hardest time meeting. But the thing is, all the calorie counting in the world, won’t make me overcome this mentality. I’m going to tackle it head on.

Alright, I’m ready to get started, but I have one thing to ask of you first:

If you’re still reading this rather long post, could you please leave comment and let me know you’re still there? I need all the support I can get and it helps to know people are reading. Don’t think the comment has to be anything profound or insightful – just a simple “I’m reading, I hear you” is all I really need.

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  1. #1 by Karen@WaistingTime on April 12, 2011 - 8:26 am

    I’m here:) And ready to offer support when I can. Are you a “give me kind words” or “give me a kick in the ass” kinda gal? BTW – if you see me unsubscribe eventually it is because I have finally figured out how to add blogs to my reader that I used to get via email.

  2. #2 by Natasha on April 12, 2011 - 11:05 am

    Glad to see you back!

  3. #3 by erin on April 12, 2011 - 12:25 pm

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, and I can really relate to what you wrote here. You have some great, simple goals, and I wish you the best as you pursue them!

  4. #4 by Sandra on April 12, 2011 - 8:22 pm

    I am reading with GREAT interest!!

  5. #5 by julie cook on April 12, 2011 - 8:51 pm

    Good stuff. I know this will motivate me when I hear you motivate yourself. Let’s get started together!

  6. #6 by Yum Yucky on April 12, 2011 - 9:00 pm

    Well yes, I’m at the end of this blog post and I’m still here! hehe. Now go kick booty, Laura Jane. 😉

  7. #7 by Karen on April 12, 2011 - 10:31 pm

    Laura, I didn’t know you blogged! Looking forward to reading! I am going to pray right now for you about this post. Before I successfully lost weight 2 years ago, I had to see that *my* eating habits were sinful (gluttoness, etc.) That conviction finally fixed my resolve. Can’t wait to hear more!

  8. #8 by Lisa on April 12, 2011 - 11:00 pm

    I LOVE your commitments. I can’t wait to read how you are doing with everything. Good Luck!!

  9. #9 by MamaBearJune on April 13, 2011 - 12:06 am

    I think most of us can relate to this quite well. The important thing is, today is a new day to make healthy choices! We can do it!

  10. #10 by Me on April 13, 2011 - 8:36 am

    I am cheering you on–and think I will apply some of those same goals! I need them too.

  11. #11 by Jeffiner on April 17, 2011 - 10:00 pm

    Go Laura go! 🙂

  12. #12 by Katie on April 18, 2011 - 9:43 am

    You CAN do it!!!

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