Thursday, August 09, 2007

Recovery: Self-discipline Revisited.

More than anything, my goal for this blog is to document recovery from mental illness and child abuse. I am so far into new territory (in my recovery), I am almost lost for words to describe where my life is going.

My early role models and personal habits were warped and dysfunctional at best. I learned to fear being an adult, taking responsibility and most of all self-discipline. I equated all of the above with a torture rack of unending misery and pain.

I mis-learned all these things. I had what has been described by M. Scott Peck PhD. and others as "undisciplined discipline" My odyssey with God is teaching me something tender, sweet and new.

For those of you who don't believe in God, I apologize. I have no substitute. I only have my experience. For my money, Jesus Christ is the best thing going. I owe all my healing to Him and Him alone.

Last Monday night, just before climbing into bed, I brushed my tummy roll and felt a twinge of awareness. Man, I've gained weight. I'd been given some beautiful clothes by a member of my church that were 3x in size. They were a little big on me, but not THAT much too big! I began to question how I could deal with losing weight God's way and not just plunge willy-nilly into another crash diet which would only lead to failure, more weight gain and a sense of futility.

I prayed to God. If You want me to lose weight, I am willing to really make an effort. But I want to do something simple, sane and slow. A life style adjustment instead of a "diet". I can't bear to never eat anything I love. I go into binge eating when I restrict myself like that.

I didn't expect, or receive an immediate answer. No booming voice out of the air, or even a small voice. I just felt like it was possible to do something different. That I would be shown a new way which would fit my requirements.

I did a Google search on weight lose and found a free website that I could use to track my calories, weight and body measurements. If I wanted to pay $5 a month, my calories and other nutritional information would be summed up and compared with he FDA recommended intake for protein, fiber and all that other stuff they track.

I've always liked tracking what I actually do, verses just having a goal which is so far into the future, I can't even relate to it. I learned that I am working my way up to the worst level of obesity, but I'm not quite there yet. I learned that I can set up a diet plan where I can lose a pound a week. I can learn to change things gradually without denying myself an occasional piece of cake, dish of ice cream, or anything else I love.

The bad news? Well, II was 205.5 pounds. I should be around 130 pounds. That is a difference of 75.5 pounds. I can handle losing the weight in 75.5 weeks, which is 1 year and 23.5 weeks. That is a bit less then a year and a half. Having an easy weekly target and a long term goal like this has taken all the tension out of wanting to lose weight. Right there I can see God gently teaching me the beginning of self-care which is actually self-discipline.

The other part of this website is tracking your activities every day. You tell them how much exercise you are doing now and work up to adding something to your daily routine. I love to walk, and when I don't walk, I get stiff to where I have trouble supporting any weight at all on the right foot. I try to walk an hour a day, but before having this lovely website to account to, I never managed to actually walk more then one or two days a week. That was not enough.

There is something very satisfying about seeing what I'm actually doing daily. Carrying my 25 pound walker up and down our 30+ stairs every day wipes out almost 50 calories, all by itself. A one hour walk tallies up to almost 400 calories. Adding in other things I never thought of as exercise brings my activity calorie reduction to nearly 500 calories a day!

This is not a signal for me to buy cake and cookies every day! I only need to cut down my food intake by 500 calories a day to make my goal of 1 pound a week of weight loss. I eat what I want, but HONESTLY admit what it was and how much I ate. I quickly saw that my amazing love of mayonnaise was accounting for almost 1600 calories a day, alone! Maybe I can cut that back, just a touch...?

The amazing thing I discovered is that I'm losing weight, exercising and not acting all crazy. No protein powder, Atkins or any other goofy food plan. I'm down to 198 pounds with no feeling of being cheated out of anything.

The only substitution I've made is to buy oranges and dried apricots for my "sweet" tooth, instead of cake, doughnuts or ice cream. I can have the other stuff, but not on a daily basis. Had a blow-out burger meal with a friend with that lovely chocolate pie. I used Equal in my coffee, but other then that I let myself enjoy a "treat" meal. I gained a pound, which swiftly disappeared when I returned to my regular, less caloric eating.

I can't remember ever having real "diet" success in my life. I can live with the changes. I feel better when I exercise. I am making friends with a whole bunch of new concepts. At church, several days after I began my new food arrangement, the preacher spoke of how important physical health was. The sermon confirmed everything I was doing. Slow, sane and lasting REAL change.

For those of you interested in this (I think) cool dieting website: ( I want to show you the link, as well as give you a link to these folks. They offer various newsletters, but won't clutter your inbox without your opting in.

For those of you who have turned purple with rage about the very notion of dieting. Just realize that this information may not be for you at this time. Not everything is a "have to", "right now". I've spoken of my dieting history when a friend began a diet and I was in a totally different frame of mind. Its okay to say "no". Saying "no" is also a very important part of recovery. You can always come back later and change your mind.

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