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Portland, Oregon, USA
June 07
She Who Must Be Obeyed
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Froggy's Links
APRIL 26, 2012 12:50PM

Weight Loss Journal: Mindfulness

Rate: 8 Flag



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.

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Figuring out what's good and worth it. That sounds like it has some legs and could carry over to a lot of things. Good idea and good luck.
This post has helped inspire me. I wonder how many OS bloggers spend too much time sitting at their computers.
jlsathre--it's weird. And powerful. The practice of writing stuff down really makes me think about what I'm doing. Not bad food/good food, but all food, any food, every food. It all goes in. I'm trying for accuracy and honesty.

Sarah--I'd bet a lot of us spend too much time sitting! Thanks for writing your weight loss blog. I hope we can inspire each other.
Congratulations - your determination is inspiring and I'm glad you already seem to be making progress! I tracked my food for a while, and you're right, it's really surprising sometimes just how much little snacks and such can cost us. A few years ago, like you seem to have done, I told myself I'd never waste calories on food I don't really like. Since then, I eat as healthy as I can (though, admittedly, a lot of the food I like isn't exactly vegetables and tofu) and just enjoy - because I think we have to enjoy what we eat at least a little, too. Continued luck to you!
sarah is cool. i told her, chew yer food more!
the brain has a mechanism that says, enough!, tied to chewing. really.
"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."
hm. this is, like, profound stuff.
i gotta ponder this.
Are you sure you don't have 22 years to take off the baby weight? That's what they told me at the hospital in 1990.
Thank you, figuring this out and sharing the secret with the rest of us. I try to pay attention to what I eat but I don't write everything down. I'm getting my cholesterol checked on May 4, so I'll be paying even more attention for the next few days...
Alysa--I have been thinking about this since your post on French women staying thin. Life is too short to eat crappy food. If I want the things I love (like brie, and french bread, and so on), I have to have a lot less of them. I'd rather have a little bit of great food than bigger portions of artificial junk I don't even like.

James--that whole idea of counting the actions and not the results is mindblowing when you start to think about it. It's contrary to everything I thought. It's a lot like parenting too. Focus on the good, not the bad, and you'll get the outcomes you want. Weird.

Amy--22 years? Cool. I've got a few to go. ;-) When this is done, I am going to post a pic of myself in my wedding dress. I want to put the thing on again, just to prove that I can.

Phyllis--it's weird. It makes me focus on what's going in. It stops me from having another cookie, or a second helping of rice, because I know I'll have to write it down.
The best of success to you.
We are on the same journey...except while I was sick last year my dietician found a wheat and dairy intolerance and ordered a 5 week cleanse, along with a low fat regimen. I thought I would DIE!! I have lost almost 9 kg's (almost 20 pounds). Never before in my life would I have imagined that could happen!