Tuesday, April 29, 2003
posted by Julie |
I had one of those strange moments today. I had placed the title of today's essay in place under the date, and then left it there last night, not at all sure just what I was going to say about behavior modification today.
I wanted to remind everybody that the reason the "Changing" section of the site is so long in comparison with other sections is that changing is what permanent weight loss is all about.
You make many changees to lose the weight, and maintain those changes to keep it off.
Change is very hard work. It means changing both your habits and your head.
That was really all I had to say on the matter, when Carrie Valentine, a new member of our subscribing group, popped me this e-mail. (I know, I haven't caught up with e-mails. But I do read them. I swear.)
She kindly allowed me to exerpt her note here:
"…I am a military wife and have struggled with weight loss for the past 6 years. My prom dress from high school was a size 6, and after 6 years of college, my wedding dress was a size 20. That's a lot. I even dropped 40 pounds and 4 dress sizes a few years ago, but managed to gain that back.
I have tried everything. All the wrong things, and even some of the right things too, but never kept it up. Supplements, diet pills, over working out, starvation, EVERYTHING.
I hate and I mean HATE to work out. I tried to lie to myself and say I liked it, but deep down I knew I hated it.
So this brings me to the title of my e-mail, "Behavior Modification versus The Split Personality."
After a three-mile power walk with my husband and my friend, my husband asked me if I had fun, and my first instinct was to say "YES! I FEEL GREAT," but then I realized I should (for once) be honest. So I said, "No, I hated every minute of it, and every step I took hurt, and I was miserable."
My husband didn't even appear shocked. He just said, "I know, but if you keep trying, every day it will get better."
And I thought to myself, "Yeah right."
Which brought us to this conversation. I asked him to tell me honestly how I could change. He said the only way is through behavior modification. And he said the first step to "changing your ways and thought process" is to identify when your "bad half" is sabotaging your "good half."
For example, when I am trying on a million outfits before I go out, and I just throw all my clothes on the bed or in the bottom of the closet, the girl throwing the clothes doesn't care about the girl who has to pick up the all the clothes when she gets home. The guy who stays up all night playing video games doesn't care about the guy who has to get up at 6am to go to work. The girl who eats the entire cheesecake doesn't care about the girl who has to work out twice as hard the next day to work it off.
So, the girl picking up the clothes, the guy going to work, and the girl working out not only have to deal with the strain of doing what they are supposed to do, but also have to live with the regret. If the "other" people the day before had just been a little more conscious of their actions, their lives would be so much easier.
As I struggle with weight loss and and the desire to be healthy and fit, I think a lot about the girl who overate, didn't work out, and let herself go. I resent that girl, because I have to bear the burden of working off all of the fat she put on me. So, I am having an epiphany. I am not that girl today. I will recognize that girl when she tries to come back and eat pizza and lay on the couch and I will tell her to take a hike (or a power walk). Literally. And I cannot let my guard down one bit. I will have to be on the look-out for her, night and day for the rest of my life.
Yeah. What she said. And shout out to her husband, who's a real pal in this.
Many of us have a way of sabotaging our own truest intentions. It seems like strange behavior, but it's really just force of habit. Water cutting through stone. And no matter how good we are, and how hard we try, it takes months and years to divert the stream, developing new habits. Even with the new habits pretty well entrenched, our old selves will pay the odd visit. Very unexpectedly.
Binge eating may or may not be your problem, but to lose weight, you'll have to eat less than you currently eat. Eat differently. Eat fewer calories overall. If binge eating is a problem for you, restricting your calories will make it harder to deal with that little demon.
Exercising, especially for heavy folks, is a hard habit to pick up. I've become something of a fitness buff, certainly compared with my old self, but my old self shows up every now and then, begging me to sleep in, skip class, skip the stretching.
When she does, I'll do as Carrie does, and show her the door.
For Carrie, this event, her thoughts about it, the support of her family and her buddy, all come together in an epiphany, a great moment that she documented. Writing it down helped her make this little contract with herself. And she already understands the power of it.
So you, today?
What behavior do you need to modify to make your weight loss and fitness goals real? To establish or reinforce new habits? Spend some time talking about it with family and buddies. Make a plan. Write it down. Focus more on rewards than on punishment or regrets.
Epiphanies. That's how things happen. Epiphany by epiphany.
Behavioral Modification in the Treatment of Obesity
Jonny on the stuff that sabotages us
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