Monday, January 17, 2005

Time will tell

Monday morning. Something bad happened. Right here, on this couch. Actually, a series of bad things happened, if you want to be precise about it. I either binged or borderline binged (not a full blown binge, but many of the same characteristics) last night, for the first time in months, and now I'm left to figure out why it happened and how I can be sure that it won't happen again.

I'm trying to track backwards, figure out what precipitated this little setback (and yes, it is only a little setback, not a disaster), and there's no obvious "gotcha" out there to explain my behavior. Upon digging a little further, though, there are a couple of new things I've introduced recently into my very structured, very routine life that each brought with them some stress along with their positive qualities. I think, perhaps, that I'm just not handling the stress produced by these newcomers to my life well enough and that it's now decided to make itself known forcibly through my eating. I've also not been sleeping well of late - say, the last four or five nights - and I'm fairly certain that's down to the stress from these new things, too.

Putting aside the question of why this happened, there is also the question of "what will I do now?" I've been sort of adrift for several weeks as far as my journey to better health is concerned - not eating badly, per se, but not strictly adhering to my prepared meals, either, and not exercising 4-5 nights a week for at least an hour, either - and I haven't lost any weight as a result. Now, I'm actually very comfortable with myself at this weight and with my current level of fitness, so this hadn't really concerned me before. However, combined with last night's binge, this is definite cause for concern. If I'm not paying strict attention to the tenets of good health and I'm going to be fighting off the urge to binge on any kind of regular basis, I will soon begin the inexorable climb back up the scales and that simply cannot happen!

So, it's time to go back to June 5, 2004 when I set out the guidelines that I wanted to live my life by. I called it the Ten Percent Challenge and this is what it consisted of:

Starting today, Saturday, June 5, 2004, I will do the following things consistently -

1. Eat my healthy gourmet prepared meals for all but one meal a week. The meal that I eat outside of my prepared meals will be calorically consistent with my recommended daily limit and will include vegetables of some sort. In order to facilitate this, I will start leaving all money and credit cards at home so that the prepared meals are all that is available to me. My daily latte fix will be taken care of at home, either before work or just before bed (they're decaf), so that I'm not tempted to buy something else with my latte and so that I don't have to break my "no money in the purse" pledge for any reason. As a side bonus, this should help with my budgeting, too, because eating out is expensive! OK, I have definitely not been a shining example of goodness in this area. Yes, I've "mostly" "sort of" stuck with the basic principles, but I'm having more than one meal a week outside of my prepared meals and that's probably a big part of the reason behind my stalled weight loss. One reason that I'd increased my eating out is that the prepared meals had increased in price considerably of late while many of the newer dinner entrees are not really doing it for me, so I'm not entirely upset about that modification to the plan. The part that is disturbing is the fact that I'm not paying enough attention to the caloric content of my "outside meals" and I think I'm probably picking up an extra two or three hundred calories that way. In any case, I'm pledging to either eat all three meals each day from my prepared meals or know the caloric content of any replacement meals. Oh yeah, and the whole "don't buy any lattes, just make them at home" thing (which was also a New Year's Resolution, by the way)? Not so much working for me. Eh, you win some, you lose some!

2. Start with 20 minutes of exercise six days a week at an intensity of between 65 and 75% of my maximum heart rate and build to 60 minutes, six days a week in this manner:

First week - 20 minutes each day
Second week - 22
Third week - 24.25
Fourth week - 26.5
Fifth week - 29.25
Sixth week - 32.25
Seventh week - 35.5
Eigth week - 39
Ninth week - 43
Tenth week - 47
Eleventh week - 52
Twelfth week - 57
Thirteenth week - 60

OK, so I'm definitely at 60 minutes, but I'm lucky to have done it three days a week for the last few weeks because I've been pushing the intensity too much and have grown to dread my workouts. I think that, at this point, with an extra 64 pounds still hanging off of my 5'3" frame, it's time to go back to focusing on the length of my workouts rather than the intensity - go long and moderate intensity rather than trying to go long and high intensity. With this, I am hereby promising (myself) to start wearing my heart rate monitor on my walking workouts to ensure that I'm staying in the fat burning zone rather than the cardio training zone. There will be plenty of time once I'm closer to my weight goal to begin cardio training if that's what I want. Additionally, I will do these "in zone" workouts at least five days a week for 60 minutes a day. Simple, elegant, do-able.

3. Consistently drink at least 100 ounces of water every day. My motivation for this one will be not allowing myself diet soda until after the 100 ounces are done for the day. This will either guarantee that I won't have any caffeine (which is good) and/or that I'll at least get my minimum water in before taking in caffeine for the day. Good news is that I no longer drink diet soda. Sure, I'll have one every couple of months, but it's a rarity and I don't even think about it most days. Bad news is that I haven't been anywhere close to 100 ounces of water in months and months. Heck, I tried to do 64 ounces a couple of days last week and was running to the ladies' so often that it really came home to me how little water I've been drinking. Must get this part of The Challenge back on track.

4. Find something to celebrate every day and share it here. I've totally shoved this off to the side, haven't I? Yikes!

5. Focus on the positive changes that I'll be making in my life and the loving way that I'll be treating my body. Mirror that attitude in the way that I talk and think about myself. I'm a good person with a lot to offer and I need to stop running myself down just because I'm afraid that if I don't do it first, someone else will. I think I've started doing a pretty good job with this, so I'll just say "continue doing this".

So, there you have it. New things can bring stress into your life even when they ought to bring nothing but happiness. Stress for me can bring binges. Binges, in the end, can lead to new resolve and a return to focusing on what's really important.

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