Happy Holler-ween

As the sluttiest of all holidays, Halloween is a great time to enjoy those weight loss results.

Here is what I look like now:

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neanderthal

And here is what I used to look like just a few years ago:

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yikes!

Just in case you think I’m particularly strong in the willpower department, I can assure you that I’m not.

I’m also not particularly hard-working, never deny myself chocolate, and NEVER exercise unless I actually want to (that said, I enjoy walking).

I’ve struggled with weight for a long time, and it took me a lifetime to figure out what works for me. For me, it boils down to three things:

  1. Keeping bad stuff out of the house;
  2. Setting myself up for success (ie.. understanding the reality of willpower depletion, and knowing my own weaknesses);
  3. Eating mostly veg, and a little bit of everything else

This is not just about looks.  It’s about empowerment mental health, and also physical health.  It’s about being a version of yourself that you are genuinely proud of.

Living a lifestyle that allows you to feel and look your best is not easy, but it’s also not that hard.  Every person deserves to look as beautiful and vivacious on the outside as they feel on the inside.  You just need to figure out what works for you. And never give up on yourself.  Past results are NOT binding! 

If you find yourself in a bad place now, just know that I’ve been there, and so have my friends and co-contributors to this blog. I don’t mean to say you’re not good enough as you are, but rather that you should live the full life you want to live.

You don’t have to lose a billion pounds this week, and you don’t have to run a marathon today.  Just make one small change and stick to it this week.  Next week, try another.

If I can do it, then anyone can do it.  Put in the effort now, and make the small changes.  By next Halloween, you’ll be strutting your stuff with the best of them 🙂

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How a Blank Calendar Can Help You Lose Weight

Dun Dun Dun! Introducing, one of the most powerful (and understated) weight loss tools in the known universe. A blank calendar for the month of November 2016.

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The Power of a Blank Calendar

You might have read my earlier post about the fresh start hypothesis.  If so, you know that a clean slate (for example, a new month or week) can either help or hurt your weight loss efforts, depending on your own circumstances.

The blank calendar is mighty.  Why?

  • It’s a great way to leverage the positive psychological benefits of “starting fresh.”
  • It forces you to break a large daunting goal into smaller, more immediate goals (which translates to a higher rate of sustained motivation and success).
  • The concrete action of writing your goals down might alone be enough to keep you sticking to them
  • It can serve as a visual reminder of the bigger picture, which helps when motivation starts to wane
  • It’s effectively free! (Provided you have access to a computer and printer).

How to Use a Blank Calendar for Weight Loss

Step One. Find a printable blank calendar (I googled “blank calendar 2016”) and print said calendar
Step Two. Choose an achievable weight loss goal for one month (for example, 8 pounds). Subtract this goal from your current weight, and write your new goal weight the last day of the month.
Step Four. Create weekly weight loss goals, and write each new weekly weight at the end of each week.
Step Five. Surrender to the blank calendar (optional).
Step Six. Tape the calendar somewhere visible.
Step Seven. At the end of each week, reevaluate your goals. If you lost more than your weekly goal, you can change your next weekly goal post to reflect your current weight. If you lost less than your weekly goal, you can do the same. The key is that you can keep adjusting your goals as you get closer to the end of the month. (For more details, see this post.)

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Your calendar might look something like this.

But How Do I Actually Lose Weight?

Obviously, the calendar itself is not a weight loss plan.  It’s just a tool to help you stay organized and to improve your stick-to-itness.

As far as losing the weight itself – there are plenty of different ways.  The right way will depend largely on your own circumstances and preferences, but removing processed foods and focusing on a plant based diet will likely go a long way.  In any event, you need to do what works for you.

Additional Uses of the Blank Calendar

In addition to using the blank calendar to plan your weight goals, you can also use the blank calendar to plan concrete actions on specific days to help you reach those goals.

These actions can be related to food intake or to exercise. Just remember to keep your actions achievable.

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Example of calendar with concrete behavioral actions

Also, keep in mind that missing one day doesn’t mean you should give up on the rest.  In fact, you will be better off if you plan for failure.

Rewards.  You can also use weekly or monthly rewards for making your goals (mani-pedi, anyone?).  Just remember not to be too hard on yourself if you miss a week.  Weight is weird, and it’s not the best measure of fat loss. On my own weight loss journey, I found that I lost weight 3 out of 4 weeks.

If you try this method, let me know how it works out for you.

If you have any thoughts on modifications, I’d love to hear those also.

Happy calendaring 🙂

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Dream Big, Plan Small

Sandwich with avocado and poached egg

Regardless of how you plan to get into shape, there is one psychological trick that I believe will be helpful to most.  You have to dream big, and you have to plan small. 

By dream big, I’m referring to your ultimate goal. Visualize it, taste it.  It can and will be yours, no matter how far away it seems right now.

You don’t have to write it down, you don’t have to meditate on it.  In fact, now it’s time to  (for the most part) throw it away. Because it doesn’t matter how big your dream is if you aren’t able to break it down into smaller parts.

By plan small, I don’t mean anything specific. But here is the general idea. Imagine that your “dream big” goal is to lose 50 pounds. Realistically, you think you can do that in 5-6 months. Assuming you’re starting in November, you should safely be able to hit that goal by May (losing 8 – 10 pounds a month).

Now – imagine yourself in the springtime, 50 pounds lighter and feeling so free. Wonderful! But in order to get there, realize that right now, 40 of those 50 pounds don’t matter. What matters is that you lost the first 10 pounds. The prospect of losing 10 pounds is much less daunting than the prospect of spending the next 5 months trying to lose a total of 50. So the last step is to forget the rest, and plan small.

Your “plan small” goal is now to lose 8 – 10 pounds in the month of November.  How are you going to do that? I don’t know. There are a million different ways. But here are a few tips that might be helpful:

It might be a good idea to plan even smaller. Forget 8-10 pounds this November, how about 2 pounds this week?  How about .3 pounds today?

One Small Caveat

Planning small is great, with one caveat.  The smaller you plan, the more you need to realize that fluctuations will happen while still losing fat. This is especially true for females as we go through our cycle.

If your goal is to lose two pounds a week, realize that you might do everything you can but still not lose those two pounds in any particular week. Assuming you are doing everything right, you might lose 1 pound one week, and 4 pounds in another.  This is the nature of attempting to measure fat by  using weight – it’s far from perfect. So you have to be sufficiently psychologically healthy that you will survive apparent disappointments (which really, are not disappointments at all).

My Method

When I first decided to lose weight, I printed out a blank calendar for a period of one month. I subtracted 10 pounds from my starting weight, and wrote in that new weight on the last day of the month. I knew I had 60+ pounds to lose, but unlike any of my previous efforts, I decided to just focus to the here and now.

In order to reach 10 pounds by the end of the month, I’d have to lose 2.5 pounds a week.  So I subtracted 2.5 pounds from my current weight, and wrote it in on the last day of the first week. I then subtracted 2.5 pounds from that weight, and wrote it in on the last day of the second week. I did this one more time, and voila – I now have 4 weeks and 4 goals.

I realize that 2.5 pounds is a lot of weight to lose consistently week after week, but because this was my first month – I figured I’d be losing a lot of water. I decided that even if I only lost 8 pounds by the end of the month, I’d consider it a huge success. In fact, any weight loss would put me in a better position than I’d been in at the beginning of the month.

In any event, I’d now start out on my first week, not thinking about the three weeks to come. My only goal this week is to lose 2.5 pounds.  When I reach the end of the first week, I’d write my new weight down.  If I lost exactly 2.5 pounds, I’d leave my goals as is. If I lost less, I’d adjust my goals to only 2 pounds per week. If I lost more, I would adjust my goals so that they reflect 2.5 pounds per week starting from my new weight (but still only until the end of the month).  Even if I gained weight, my new weekly goal is just to lose 2.5 from my new weight.

The effect is that no matter what, my goal is always “lose 2.5 pounds (or 2 pounds) this week.” The month is not important, and the goal re-sets each week.

Here is what I found. Three out of four times, I met or exceeded my weekly goal. Usually about once a month, I lost slightly less than my goal, and very rarely I gained.

Over time, this method worked for me.  My mind is overcrowded, and I’m sure yours is too. We want to fast forward to the future, but things just seem to work out better when we try our best to focus on the here and now.

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Indecisions of Greatness

 

I don’t think I’m alone in hating decisions. They’re hard. They suck up your life energy.  Before I make a decision, I feel like my stomach is going to fall through my asshole.  Immediately afterwards, I feel like a wet rag and my brain hurts.

I’m working on getting better at making decisions. I’m meditating, thinking, and trying my best to generally chill the fuck out.

But until then, I’ll be making indecisions. Specifically, indecisions of greatness.

Indecisions of greatness happen when you don’t know what the hell you’re doing, but at least you’re doing something that’s good for yourself. Or at least less bad for yourself than something you might otherwise do.

Example 1. I’m stressed about something that comes up with work.   I don’t know what to do. Normally, I might procrastinate and eat a delicious bagel filled with all of my favorite things. Today, I’ll procrastinate by going for 10 minute walk.

Why is this good?: I’m still procrastinating, so I suck. But maybe by channeling my procrastination in a slightly better way, I’ll feel slightly better about myself in general, therefore slightly less anxious, and therefore slightly less likely to continue procrastinating. I’ll probably continue to procrastinate, but at least I’ve improved my odds.

Example 2. I don’t know what’s going on with my life, and I’m sad. Sundays in particular make me sad.  I really want to light up a bowl and become one with my couch.  Instead, I will make an indecision of greatness. Maybe I’ll still light up a bowl, but I’ll tune into a Continuing Legal Education course instead of succumbing to another season of Hoarders.  And maybe I’ll take notes. And maybe I won’t light up that bowl after all.

Why is this good?: I’m still self-medicating and sloppy, but at least I’m not watching Hoarders. I’ll become a better lawyer (and arguably BETTER at being lazy).  Maybe that course will help me get better at helping someone else someday. Maybe I’ll forget the whole thing.  But if I’m using my sloppy Sunday for even .001% self-improvement, I’m making an indecision of greatness. And that is OK.

Indecisions are not good. But indecisions of greatness are better than indecisions of sorrow. They might not be a step forward, but at least they are not a step backward.

You can’t always be on the ball. Because the ball is round, legs are not good at standing on balls, and learning balance takes practice.

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Getting Back on the Horse

Well, well, well. I may have fallen off the horse a little bit with my writing, but I am back again with a vengeance and an appropriate theme for the occasion!

As the famous saying goes: “Let he who has not fallen off the horse cast the first stone.” SOMETIMES, we all fall off the horse. I feel off pretty hard.

Let’s start at the very beginning, shall we?

In elementary, I was the chubby girl. I have plenty of hilarious anecdotes I can share with you on what it was like being the fat kid at day camp or what it’s like going through those awkward puberty years as a girl who knew what chub rub was before she was in her first training bra. But, for another time…

High school hit and I worked my butt off. You know, you start liking guys and then there goes every sensible thought in your head. My friends and I would have sleepovers where we would do laps in the pool or hold each other’s feet while we did crunches rather than pigging out and binge watching horror movies like normal teens did. Then, of course, we all know how college goes, but all keggers considered, I stayed pretty thin.

It was when “real life” started that everything fell apart. You know, the time when you’re supposed to be self reliant and paying taxes and doing other adult things? Yeah, it was right about then that no more shits were given. I was living in NYC and poor. I ate dollar slice and other cheap meals. I got beer and shot specials at the bar because it was way more cost effective than slowly sipping away at a $12 cabernet. Basically, I embraced the “fuck it” school of thought. Unfortunately, when you start treating your body like crap, you start feeling like crap. Then your life becomes like those things people have on their desks where the bead on one end hits all the others and makes the bead on the other end swing and hit them again and repeat.

You know….

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Those things!

Anyway, then you are gaining weight, getting depressed, feeling unmotivated and it seems to happen overnight because you are unraveling so slowly that you don’t notice it.

I wasn’t even falling off the horse, I was subconsciously dismounting in slow motion and before I knew it the horse was running off without me. Into the sunset…

I was always the adventuring type: always looking for something to do, people to meet, new things to see and experience. I had energy, I was eager: if I could, I would be 100 places at any given time to make sure I didn’t miss out on anything! But, that wasn’t me anymore. I was embarrassed of my body so I didn’t like to go out. Because I never went out, I felt like I didn’t have anything of value to add to conversations anymore, no new stories of interesting places I’d been or amazing people I’d met. Boooooring! 

It took the humbling experience of moving back in with my mom for personal reasons to set me straight. I’m not sure why, because until that moment, I thought I was too far gone to ever be able to repair all the damage done. Somehow, instead of allowing myself to feel like a loser for taking a step backwards in my life, I saw it as a new beginning!

Here is where I came up with a motto I’m determined to stick with: “If things suck, fix them.”

I started walking. And walking. And walking. Then I walked some more. I started walking because I still wasn’t totally comfortable in a gym. Everyone walks, but it was hard for me to be the bigger girl in a fitness class. Here is where I am going to throw in that cliche: “If I can do it, anyone can!” I was SO out of shape. Like, seriously, so very supremely, disturbingly out of shape. 

After I walked a bunch, I did some kickboxing. After that, I tried running. After that, I did yoga and went hiking. I used to get winded climbing the subway stairs and now here I am, hiking up mountains! I’ve tried aerial yoga, trampoline aerobics, hip hop dancing, plilates, rowing and spin. I used to never want to leave the apartment, since I’ve been to a ton of new places like Barcelona, London, Panama, Mexico, California and road trips to awesome cities all over the country.

There is still so much else I want to try and so many new things I want to experience. I’m back to my old self!

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Left: March 2014 (220 lbs). Right: September 2015 (125 lbs).

The cause and effect of taking care of yourself is huge, and isn’t just limited to how you look – it impacts how you feel which impacts everything else in your life: your relationships, your performance at work, your confidence and your motivation. But you knew all of that!

While I hope I never fall off the horse quite as hard again, I am sure life will have its setbacks occasionally. I’ll stop writing for a few months, maybe I’ll slow down on exercise at some point, maybe this holiday season I’ll eat the entire fruitcake. Falling off is ok, but it’s always so important to get back on, don’t ever feel like you’ve fallen off so hard that you can’t catch back up. You always can and you always should! Make yourself a priority because you are SO worth it!

Happy to be back!

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Walking in Beautiful Places

I don’t know what goes on in your head, I can only (attempt to) tell you what goes on in mine.

I enjoy everything, and I feel happy. I love being young, and my entire existence feels light and silly. In the same moment, I feel profoundly isolated. I disappoint myself, and I’m disappointed by others. I ruminate and dwell on things that I could probably change but don’t. I feel uncalm, yet strangely unfazed. I’m just watching IT happen, and IT is (for the most part) awesome.

Night time shore walks bring me stillness, especially in the colder months. Usually, I’m  there alone – little Dorit versus the entire ocean and world. I’m tormented by the most intense loneliness and sadness. I’m humbled and silent and reminded of my insignificance.

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Yes, I got soaked. 

Then, suddenly, it all feels like the greatest gift. I have to let it wash over me or I’ll burst. I feel almost unbearably grateful to be living the best possible life at the best possible time. The world is great, and its begging me to make it even better. I can’t be stopped (possibly because I’m having a manic episode?). It’s beautiful and special to feel all of these feelings.

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Night time skyline walks can have a similar effect. 

Then I start to feel that I’m crazy. Then I start to feel that I’m sane. Too sane. Maybe the last sane person walking on earth.

My regular walk takes about three to four hours, during which time the ocean regularly lights a fire under my ass. I write short stories in my head (usually about murder) and I think about how the world will end. I’m never very interested in the plot. I like to play with the sentences and scenes, and I text myself the favorites. Later, I’ll adapt them to whatever context.

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Isn’t this shit special?

When I walk all alone late at night, I feel unpleasant things.

I’d love a friend to talk to, but if one came along, I have a feeling I might lie and say I have plans. I need to leave the world regularly, and go to a beautiful place and just walk. Then when I come back, I can function (most of the time). The world is filled with incredible landscapes to walk through and appreciate.  It’s the greatest gift.

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Dress Appropriately

A lot of salad dressings are terrible for you. They are made of processed horribleness that totally kill your whole “I’m healthy because I’m eating a salad” vibe. Dressings, particularly the ones that claim to be “fat free” or “sugar free,” are diet dream crushers, dressed from head to toe in a web of lies.

Like most things, if you can’t explain where it came from or how it was made, then you should probably avoid it. Modified ingredients that cause certain food items such as dressing to be “low fat” “low carb” or “no sugar added” make up for these losses with other items, not natural to your body. Your body reacts to these foreign ingredients in a number of ways, typically with effects the opposite of weight loss. When your body is distressed or confused, it typically likes to play it safe, and hoards sugars and fats, which are useful for survival. But when we are trying to lose weight, we want our bodies to be preppin’ for thriving, not surviving.

I get it though: plain salad can be kind of lame. But its easy to make a basic dressing and get creative with other flavors without having to worry about ingesting the scum of the universe atop your mixed greens.

Make your own dressing!

Mix:
1/4 C Olive Oil
1/4 C Agave
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
Mix with any dried spices (+salt and pepper) or add avocado, juice from berries, etc. to mix it up! You can also look into some Greek yogurt based dressings! Also delicious and with great health benefits!

So easy! Oh yeah!

Let me know what healthy dressing recipes you come up with to stay away from bottled dressings!

Later,

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