Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Being the Change You Want to See in Yourself

"It doesn't matter whom you're paired against; your opponent is always yourself" -Nakamura

A pattern emerged from the posts this week. Vaughne wrote about food addiction. Breeze wrote Fat Soldier (of Love) and of his struggles with weight, and Lynx talked about his transformation in his latest video. Three is a special number in many ways. It's the point that the suspicion of a pattern becomes the outline of an idea. It's pretty obvious that a blog for bears will eventually touch on the issue of weight loss, but for it to emerge so naturally without any prompting is beyond encouraging. I've found myself inspired to talk about my journey as well and talk about what I've learned along the way.

I was a skinny kid, but somewhere in my youth I became an overeater. It started at the Piccadilly Cafeteria soon after my brother was in the hospital. I was about 8, but I remember being scared that he was going to die. Isn't the hospital where people go to die? So, somewhere in that child's mind I buried those worries with as much food as I could keep down. Before, I was always asked to eat more or finish my plate even though I was full. I found real delight in eating. A little weight didn't seem like a bad thing at the time until I started to eat every time something bad happened. Then, I started to eat for fun or just because I was bored. Sooner than later I became fat. We can learn to live with anything. It's our greatest strength and weakness. We can eat ourselves to death and still be quite happy or at least content.

I saw a pattern in the stories about making changes. Finding the right motivation is key to success  My reason for change was that I was falling in love with a younger man. With him, almost a decade older, this meant feeling older for the first time in my life. I had always dated older men and felt like I was the youngster, but just the feeling of getting up in age made me want to change. So I decided to do something. I was already on the path to changing my eating patterns and I was enrolled at a gym, my problem was that I wasn't doing it consistently.

I wasn't losing weight to look better. I was looking to move better and be healthier. It was more about what I could physically do. I needed to be fit to keep up with him; losing weight was just a bonus. I followed the plan of "Eat food, not too much, and move." The most loaded word in this is the word is food. What it meant by food was as non-processed as possible. Fruits veggies lean meats and whole grains, nothing white, fried, or dairy. If you can dig it up, pick it, or kill it then it was food. He called anything that didn't fall in that category food products and it made sense to me. I try to eat as much food as I need to feel full, which turns out to be a lot less since food fills you up faster than food products.

The not too much part is pretty simple too. Finding out how much food is too much is pretty easy, the hard part is making a habit of it. I had to cook a lot more. I ended up actually saving money by grocery shopping rather than going to a restaurant. Eating the right amount of food  needs to become a habit, so you don't have to spend the rest of your life calculating. A food journal helps. I found that I have my phone on me all the time so I'd take a picture of everything I ate. It was amazing how much less I ate for a week, if I just became consciously aware of what I was eating. Soon, eating less became a habit and I stopped taking my journal with me. Now, I only note when I go off my plan for some hot wings or pizza. But I find that I really don't like food products as much as I used to. French fries don't do anything for me anymore.

Moving is easy to understand. Just find your target heart rate and get it there for about two hours a week. Weight training helps, but I haven't incorporated much into my routine yet. So far, it's working, but it's always been less dogmatic for me. I know that I have to enjoy my workouts to keep doing them, so I keep that in mind while I choose my routine. I only weigh myself to make sure I'm still making progress, but I mostly ignore my weight and focus on my behavior. I know I'm going to have to do this for the rest of my life, so I make it a priority to make sure I structure my life in such a way that taking care of myself is just a normal everyday thing. I try not to congratulate myself too much. I'm just doing what I really want to do. But I can't help but feel good about tell someone I'm at gym.

I wish I could tell you more about my weight loss plans, but really mine have just been based upon a shift in mindset: that I'm not losing weight, but rather becoming the type of person who weighs less than I used to be.  It's a consciousness shift that has to take place before any weight loss can occur. It helps that there so many of us out in the world who've gone through this, who can offer moral support, but ultimately, you have to find that reason to want to be a changed man and make it part of a new you.

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