OS blogger Sarah Cavanaugh has posted an excellent Weight Loss Journal, and she's inspired me. So here goes.
I won't go into the history too much... I weigh too much, it crept on, eventually I couldn't ignore it. Nuff said. I called it baby weight for a long time, but now that my baby is in middle school and playing the violin, I have to own it. Those pounds are mine.
I joined Weight Watchers. But this isn't about that. Not really.
Part of their "plan" is tracking. Which in the past I've been lackadasical about. I'd track things for a day, or half, and then kind of do it in my head, and then quit because "this isn't working." And the pounds stubbornly stayed with me.
This time is different.
I spent the last half a year writing training materials for industrial safety training. (Stay with me here. There is a connection.) In industrial safety, if you want to reduce accidents, you don't count accidents. Those are the results, not the actions that got you there.
You also can't go around being the safety cop, blowing the whistle on everything. That drives the unsafe behavior underground, it doesn't stop it. "Busting" people for bad behavior doesn't stop the behavior.
Instead, you focus on the behavior you WANT (not what you DON'T want), and you reward it. You give rewards for wearing hardhats, doing ladder checks, and wearing the right tie-off harness. You run around watching, catching people in the act of doing the right thing, and you call it out and reward them.
So... instead of worrying about the pounds (the outcome), I've been tracking food. Obsessively. Everything. Every blessed mouthful of everything, I write it down. And my weight is slowly going down.
And I'm realizing the magic of this isn't in the numbers and the math, or in whatever Weight Watchers' system of the day is (it changes every year as the nutritionists learn more).
It's about mindfulness.
It's about weighing things, writing them down, measuring them, and acknowledging them. Owning them. That piece of bread. That extra cookie. That extra cream in the coffee. The samples at Costco. The glass of wine. The second helping. Nothing is off limits. Everything has a value, there are no forbidden foods. There's only learning to control myself.
I had a piece of my daughter's birthday cake this weekend. I weighed it, tracked it, wrote it down. Then I ate it. Just an ordinary piece of birthday cake was probably a third of the food I should eat in a normal day. But I wrote it down, and I ate it.
And I realized, it wasn't even very good. Is this really how I want to spend these calories? Really? If I'm going to have something that costs this much, it's got to be better than grocery store birthday cake. Before I started this, I wouldn't have thought in those terms. I would have had a second piece. And another the next day.
Once I got the hang of tracking, it's not really very hard. It takes a little time, but not much. They have an iPhone app. There are lots of other similar apps.
It's about mindfulness.
It's not about the scale in the bathroom. It's about changing what I do. It's about the little scale in the kitchen, the measuring cups, the portion sizes. The pounds are the outcome, like the accident statistics.
I'm finding my choices are shifting. I'm making room for foods I truly love and enjoy. I'm cutting out things I don't care about as much, but I ate because they were there, or I was bored, or angry, or tired. My portions are shrinking as I weigh, measure, and write it down. That act of writing is amazingly powerful.
It's slow. Incredibly, painfully slow.
But it's working.