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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Passing Over the Good Stuff

I’m Jewish. So … tonight we celebrate something weird.

First, we celebrate our emancipation from slavery in Egypt.  Not so weird.

Second, we celebrate that time when God decided to kill all of the first born sons of Egypt, sparing all the Jews. To tell us apart, God advises us Hebrews (and Shebrews) to spread blood all over our doors with a lamb shank. Then God goes on a GTA style killing spree, “Passing Over” the first born Jewish boys and killing only the gentiles. How nice.

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Herman’s face when I told him God only spared the Jewish puppies.

Let’s Talk About Food

…Yada yada yada… God is weird, and here we are countless years later commanded to dine on salty eggs, horseradish, and flavorless crackers the size of large plates.  Score one for God in the WTF department.

No matter what we’re commemorating, the story eventually gets lost as culture and tradition (AKA FOOD) take the spotlight.

…At some point God killed all the Egyptian babies and then we spent some years wandering in the dessert. Is it so wrong to suggest that God’s killing spree and the act of eating chocolate matzoh until your stomach explodes are tenuosly connected, at best?

Passover versus Passover

Holidays are a nice time to eat together with family and friends. They can also derail your weight loss efforts, or provide a convenient excuse for days of overeating.  For many, there is the added pressure of relatives who insist you “have a little more.”

Passover, in particular, is not known for the delicious food. Due to the many food restrictions  that apply during this seven day period, we eat many specialized foods that are only available during this time of year. We might even justify eating vast quantities of “Kosher for Passover” desserts even if we don’t normally eat desserts, and even if those desserts don’t taste very good. We’re only human, and the “limited time only” aspect gets us. Every time.

But ultimately, the choice is yours! There are TWO WAYS you can use the word “Passover” at feast tonight.

Option one: Passover the [Insert food item here]

In this case, you want to consume a comestible, but it is across the table. Examples include:

  • “Hey you – Passover the macaroons”
  • “Grandma, could you Passover the salt please?”
  • “Would anyone mind Passing over that flourless dessert?”

Option two: Passing over [insert poor food choice here].

In this case, you pass over a second helping, or even a first helping of a most likely gross tasting Passover dessert. Examples include:

  • “Eh – I’ve already had enough tsimis. I’ll pass over that second helping.”
  • “Oh, thank you. But I’ll pass on the chocolate matzoh.  Look at all this yummy fruit.”

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All of this is just a long-winded way of getting to a few fairly obvious points.

  1. Eventually, everything turns into an excuse to eat food. If you don’t have an excuse to eat more than you should, you will find one.
  2. That’s OK – it’s our human nature to feast. Humans like feasting, and that’s OK. You can let go every once in a while on a holiday. No one gets fat because of one Passover meal.
  3. On the other hand, the choice is yours. If you don’t want to make the hard sacrifices that fitness often requires, that’s fine. But recognize that the choice is yours. Don’t say “oh today’s not a good day to diet – it’s Passover.” You can make good choices at Passover, or you can make bad choices at Passover. No one is holding you down to the chair and force-feeding you lamb shanks. Unless of course, someone is holding you down to the chair and force-feeding you lamb shanks.
  4. You can politely decline. Jewish people want to feed you. But you are in control of what goes in your mouth. It’s nice if you try a little bit of things that people cook, and show some appreciation. But it’s also nice for people to respect your choices. You can politely decline whatever you don’t want to eat, and that won’t make you a heathen. If it offends people, oh well. That’s their problem – unless you make it your problem.

To me, most Passover food tastes as weird as its origin story. So I’d rather not overeat at the Passover table.

I don’t think God likes gluttony, and I don’t think it’s important to him that you overeat. I  believe that God favors those who take steps towards their own self-actualization and happiness.

Is a little overeating on a holiday OK? Sure.
Is a lot of overeating on a holiday OK? Sure.

Everything is OK, provided that you are making the choice that YOU want to make.

As for me? I’ll be “passing over” some things, and taking second second helpings of others.

Happy Feasting.

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Three Ways to Use Reddit for Weightloss

Reddit is confusing and weird. To the uninitiated, Reddit is about as charming as an oil slick. As far as social networks are concerned, my roommate sums it up perfectly as “the cool one.”

In terms of overall troll volume, Reddit puts the collected works of Scandinavian folklore to shame. These purveyors of wanton cruelty possess not only an impressive ability to conjure the most unnecessary opinion humanly possible, but also the baffling desire to share such opinion in matters that don’t concern them.

How to Use Reddit for Good

Because Reddit will greet you with the warm embrace of a massive forest fire, it might not seem like a great place for fitness tips and motivation. But don’t be scared!

The truth is that Reddit is home to some excellent (and highly unique) forums which can serve as wonderful resources on your fitness journey. The following sub-reddits are mostly troll-free, and some have features which I haven’t found elsewhere on the internet.

  1. Progress Pics

    This sub-reddit allows you to view and post progress pictures, but it also has a really cool feature. Look to the right of the page, and you will see buttons where you can click on “Male” or “Female”

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Click the appropriate sex, and the field expands (magically) as follows: unspecified.png

You can search before and after pictures by sex and height, which means that you can easily browse through hundreds of photos of people who approximate your own stats. You can often talk to those people, read about them, and learn what they did to lose weight.

You can also post your own photos to help others. I posted my own photo a little while back, along with a short description of my journey. In response, I received dozens of kind comments, many from people with similar stats as my own thanking me for the inspiration. Some people asked me questions about what I did specifically to lose weight. All questions were summarily ignored! #kidding

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My post on progress pics.

2. Lose it

Lose it is a more general forum, where you can ask questions, post pictures, and discuss a number of fitness and weight loss related topics. You can also participate along with thousands of other people in daily, weekly and monthly challenges, which can be found on the right side of the page:

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I’m not much of a tracker, but if you do track or if you want to try it – this is a great resource. In total, over 339,000 pounds have been lost with the help of the Lose it subreddit!

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3. Veg Recipes and Paleo Recipes

Veg Recipes

Even if you eat meat, veg recipes is an excellent forum to find interesting and delicious vegetarian recipes, which are often quite simple and healthy. With a community of around 37,000 people – there are constantly new recipes to try.

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Ok, so maybe stay away from that last one.

Unlike the previous two  forums, Veg Recipes is NOT specifically for weight loss. But because I’ve found so many wonderful recipes here, it’s definitely worth checking out. Challenge yourself to make a new vegetarian recipe every week! Healthy food does not need to be bland food.

Paleo Recipes

Despite being a smaller community of less than 5,000, Paleo Recipes also has a lot to offer, ranging from breakfasts to snacks and desserts.  Here are just a few examples of what you can find there right now:

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In Sum

The above forums are just a few resources on Reddit that I use regularly and love.  There are so many more out there despite the fact that Reddit is, for the most part, a hell hole.

If you’re new to Reddit, you can avoid trolls, meanies, and negative nancies by starting out with the links above. Then, if you enjoy any particular forum, you can find links to related  sub-reddits on the right hand side of the page.

You can also use Reddit’s search feature to look for key words, but be wary – you might end up in troll territory. Or in a forum with very few users that is rarely updated.

If you have any sub-reddit you love, please do share.

..And remember, don’t feed the trolls!

**UPDATE**: Reddit Trolling has officially gotten so bad, that I just got Reddit trolled while sharing this post on Facebook.

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In any event, he’s right. Just the other day, I spent about four hours in the Reddit black hole after coming across a post about husbands who cheat on their wives. This topic has zero relevance to my life, but in any event – during that four hour period, not a single slice of pizza was consumed. Success.

Happy Redditing :]

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Food and Uncertainty

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Ambiguity intolerance is the tendency to perceive uncertain situations as threatening.

It makes sense – the unknown is scary. But some people have a harder time dealing with it than others.  And these people are more likely to suffer anxiety and depression, especially when faced with a particularly difficult stressor.

Uncertainty and Food

I believe that many disordered eaters suffer from ambiguity intolerance.

Have you ever turned to food to flood your brains with feel-good chemicals in order to avoid feelings of panic? Have you ever done this – even though nothing was wrong in that particular moment?

Fostering a Taste for Uncertainty

If you find yourself threatened by the unknown, fostering a healthier relationship with uncertainty might do wonders to decrease your anxiety.

Who knows, you might even develop a taste for uncertainty. This time next year you could be reading this post while wrestling a shark.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Focus on this hour, this minute, and this day. It’s only natural to feel overwhelmed by the whole entire future. Bring yourself into the present by focusing on what you can do right now. I know this is easier said than done. But try.
  2. Do things that scare you. You have to actively do things that scare you. It sucks, but you’ll (most likely) live. Last year, I jumped out of a freaking airplane! It was the worst thing ever.
  3. Improve a skill. Some people feel anxious because they have an overall feeling of never being good enough. But everyone is good at something. Take something you’re good at and get great at it. Your feelings of pride will spill over into every day life. See my post on pursuing your weird hobbies.
  4. Achieve a behavioral goal. Set a small behavioral goal for yourself, and achieve it. Like number three above, the good feelings will spill over into your every day life making you feel less anxious in general. You’ll also see that things aren’t so hard when you take them one step at a time.  Example: I will go to the gym every Tuesday and Thursday for the next two weeks.

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Losing weight is hard. Maintaining it should not be.

People say that losing weight is easy, while maintaining weight loss is hard. Well, people say a lot of things. And since I’m a person, I’m going to say a thing also.

Losing weight is hard. Maintaining it should not be.  And if maintaining weight loss is hard, it probably means that you’re eating the wrong things.

Why is losing weight hard?

I can’t imagine how losing weight can be easy. I lost weight slowly over a period of two years. I had a goal in mind, and I never faltered. I’m still not 100% there, but I am closer every day.

And guess what. It was HARD as hell. It remains hard. Because in order to lose weight, no matter how you do it, you are starving in some sense. You need your body to use what it has by not giving it what it wants. And that’s hard.

Before your body starts losing weight, you need to burn through: 1) the glucose in your blood; 2) the glycogen in your muscles; and then and only then will it begin on fat reserves.

Sure, there are harder things than losing weight. And sure, there are things you can do to make it less hard. But it’s hard nonetheless, and I have no doubt that some days you will just want to give up.

Why Maintaining Weight Should Be Easy

How did you get heavy in the first place?

Chances are you ate too much crap. But that doesn’t mean it was entirely your fault. Yes, you made bad choices.  You probably either made:

  • very bad choices over a short period of time, OR
  • slightly bad choices over an extended period of time

But in any event, you were under the influence of the food industry, and also of silly FDA guidelines which don’t make much sense. You were getting unfit in an unfit world. And that’s OK.

Sure – it make sense, from the standpoint of biological fitness, for many of us to overeat when food is abundant. Who knows – you might even be genetically or culturally pre-disposed to this issue. And that sucks.

But pre-dispostion won’t keep a mindful and well-informed person fat. Because your fitness level is based more than anything on:

  • the foods you eat; AND
  • the habits you maintain.

The foods you eat are based on availability and your habits. And if you’ve been overweight, then the chances are the you probably formed some bad eating habits. And that’s OK. It’s hard to form fit habits in an unfit world.

But now that you’ve lost the weight, you’ve had the chance to build good habits! Or one would hope.

If you’ve truly build good habits – you can relax a little. All you need to do is maintain those good habits and you should maintain your loss. Of course old ways can come creeping back. So stay mindful.

But if you haven’t built good habits – you need to keep working. Not at losing weight, but at building those good habits. Because good habits are what you need to maintain your weight without suffering. Eating well needs to be your preference! And it can be.

FAQ’s

Are there factors other than good habits that might make maintenance hard? Sure. You might have sleeping issues, or hormonal issues. Or you might be largely sedentary due to a medical condition. But habits are important. You cannot stay fit without good habits.

Will your metabolism slow with age? Yes. You’ll need to make adjustments for all sorts of reasons: age, varying activity levels, etc. But now all you need to do is fill your body with good stuff, and you will stay at a healthy weight.

Take Notice

Maybe this all seems obvious, or easier said than done.

But it’s important to take notice of the power of habit. And it’s important for you to be able to look at yourself and figure out whether you’ve TRULY formed good habits – or whether, on the other hand, those habits are superficially or weakly engrained.

Because if you think maintaining your weight is hard, then it’s likely that your good habits aren’t strongly engrained in your mind.  In this case, it might be helpful for you to think about ways that you can further strengthen your habits. For more on habits, check out my post Why Emotional Eating is Actually Habitual Eating.

Until you ACTUALLY PREFER eating and living well, your weight might always be a struggle. So learning to hack that preference by delving into habit formation might just make your life awesome.

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Four Ways to Fight Apathy

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When I reached my highest weight, I felt nothing but apathy. It was as if every day was a cold rainy day, and I just didn’t want to get out of bed. At that time:

  • Getting into even decent shape seemed so far away that it felt more like a fantasy than an achievable goal; and
  • Getting into great shape was completely outside of the realm of possibilities.

The result? 

  • I fell into a complete state of apathy. And if things had gone a little differently, I might still be there today.
  • I wasted precious time dreaming of a fantasy transformation instead of slowly beginning to introduce the small changes that my body actually needed and wanted.

When does apathy strike?: 

Apathy tends to strike when the place where you WANT TO BE seems too far away from the place where you CURRENTLY ARE.

So naturally, you need to find ways to trick your brain into feeling:

  • that the road ahead of you isn’t so bad; AND
  • that you’re closer to where you want to be than you actually are.

Four Ways to Fight Apathy:

  1. Reduce your ambition. This seems counterintuitive, but it works. Try the “do one thing” rule
  2. Set SMALL Behavioral Goals. You can never control outcomes, but you can ALWAYS control behaviors. What is one SMALL behavior you can change every day for this entire week? Examples: have salad for lunch every day; do 50 crunches before bed; eat one probiotic food every day.
  3. Increase your motivation. See here.
  4. Chop up your outcome-based goals. To the extent you do focus on outcome-based goals, cut them up into bite sized chunks. This is important! See my post on Aiming for Eight.

What are some ways that you fight apathy?

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