Saturday, February 23, 2013

Eating on the Road

When I am on a long road trip, I don’t like to dilly-dally. I’d prefer to keep my stops to a minimum and get to my final destination as quickly as possible. But sometimes, my gut tells me I need to stop. And I don’t mean some weird, Leroy Jethro Gibbs instinct, I mean, my hunger pains! What I have learned is that it is best to keep snacks easily accessible in the car (of course, it helps when I have a passenger to hand me food and drink) so that I don’t have to stop for long meals.

Up until now, these posts have used the theme of a road trip as an allusion to my path on “the plan”; however, this scenario actually translates to both journeys. I need to make sure that I have healthy snacks along the way in order to keep my hunger to a minimum and so that I don’t find myself sitting at the drive-thru window of the Golden Arches. When there is a break in the normal routine (road trips, business trips, etc.), I think many people make the mistake of thinking “hey, I’m on vacation, why not?” or “I can always get back on track when I get home” and while both of those statements are true, why should I derail myself from the new routine have created? If I feel good eating healthy and exercising, why would I want to deviate from that routine on vacation? If I know that overeating and overdrinking is only going to make me feel like crap, why would I want to waste the calories on something that isn’t worth it? Now, of course the beauty of “the plan” is that if I want to have it (whatever “it” is), I’m allowed. Nothing is off limits.

Somehow, I got sidetracked from my original thought: healthy snacking along the way. Yes, if I am on the road, I must keep the healthy snacks with me. Now, I don’t know about you, but if my stomach is growling from hunger, that is all I think about. And when food is all I’m thinking about and I finally get to a restaurant, I’m like a shark feeding in chummy waters! My eyes roll back in my head, and I bite down on whatever I can get my teeth into before it disappears! OK, so maybe I’m not that bad, but at one point and time, that wasn’t too far off from reality! But if I have some fruit, or some other snack, that sharky behavior doesn’t rear it’s ugly head when I finally do get to sit down for a meal.
And so it is, that one of the most important lessons I have learned along the way is keep good snacks with me at all times. I really don’t relish the thought of sitting down to a meal after a long day of traveling and in the back of my mind I start to hear the theme from Jaws! I’m pretty sure there is a bunch of sciencey stuff out there to support this theory of snacking, but I don’t feel the need to go search it out. I just believe in my gut and know how I feel when I do keep snacks around (or don’t have them around). Who needs sciencey stuff when that gut feeling is all the evidence I need.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Road Less Bumpy

I have mainly been concentrating on the obstacles of my journey. While I want to offer you encouragement and help you prepare if you are about to embark on your own pilgrimage, I certainly don’t want to frighten you away and have you believe that it is all rough waters, with no light at the end of the tunnel (I guess this travel metaphor has really taken off!).
Every post so far has been about the things that are challenging me along the way, but what I have neglected to talk about are the days when I hit all the green lights, have no detours, my pit stops are at clean restrooms and the car is driving like a dream. Believe it or not, the majority of my journey has been like this (so far, anyway). After being on this plan for well over a year now, my decisions and choices have become second nature. There’s not really a lot of thought behind what I am doing now. I think about it like this... when I first got my license, I had to think about putting on my seatbelt, I had to think about looking in all my mirrors, I had to think about using the turn signal, but now, because I have been driving for so long and I am driving a vehicle that I love, I do all of those things without thinking because they are habits. Of course, just because some things are natural when it comes to driving doesn’t mean that I am not still aware of everyone else on the road, because let’s face it, while we can control our own cars, we can’t control others’!

I realized that I had established some habits with regards to food. For instance, I would eat when I was bored, when I was sad, when I was happy, to celebrate, to mourn, while watching TV or even playing on the computer. It was not about eating because I was hungry, it was about taking comfort in an old friend. Now, I have found other outlets— like writing this blog— which has really helped me thrive along the way. I am working on forming new habits and it’s been a chain reaction: I am eating better, so I have more energy, so I take my afternoon walks, which stimulates my mind, which has really helped me focus on what I want, and that focus has led me to start this blog. I only wish that I had started it earlier, but as George Eliot said, “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.” So, it’s never too late to go to your first meeting, it’s never to late to take that first walk around the block and it’s certainly never too late to write the first blog post!

I can always learn from the bumpy parts of my road trip, but I also need to realize that the road less bumpy is a good time to fully appreciate what is happening around me. I have also come to realize that I may be the one driving, but I am not alone on the journey. I have the support of my family, friends and everyone in the group; however, it’s ultimately up to me to be in control of how successful or unsuccessful this trip will be. And right now, I feel like I have been successful, and that has made all the difference.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Broken Down on the Side of the Road

Uh oh. Have you ever had a flat tire, engine trouble or, worse, an accident that stranded you on the side of the road? Well, I have definitely encountered any number of things that completely derailed a trip. Where as a road closure or a pit stop may only delay you for a few minutes or at worst, an hour, an accident or a breakdown can derail your progress for many hours or even days. And in some cases, you may be sent home, only to have to start over at a later date. As always, it is so important that you do eventually get back on the road. It may take you a while to recover, but if you realize that you were on the road for a reason, it shouldn't be too difficult to find the motivation to start over.

I am currently struggling with sitting on the side of the road and watching others pass me by. While I keep telling myself (and any of you who are reading this blog) that this is a long journey and I am only in the middle of it, sometimes it is difficult to face up to the yo-yo effect of weighing every week. When I was heavier, my weigh-ins were down from week to week. But as I get closer to my goal and see my final destination on the horizon, it is becoming more and more difficult to stay positive when I have an up week. I have to keep telling myself that being up a few pounds is nothing compared to being down 100+ pounds, overall. Seeing as I am human, it still hurts the ego a bit! But this is the time when I have to suck it up, call AAA and get problem fixed and get back on the road. It may take more than a week to recover from this week’s accident (aka: bad weigh-in), but I know that I will recover.

I didn't always have this resolve. In fact, if this were four years ago, I’m pretty sure I would have gone straight to Pizza Hut or Domino’s with the mindset of “eff this! I’m up, so I may as well throw in the towel! Deep dish, extra cheese, here I come!" But not this time. Nope, I had to look deep within my self and figure out what went wrong and try something different. How can I expect different results by continuing to do the same behavior (insanity, anyone)? To change my outcome, I must change my outlook, it’s as simple as that. OK, maybe that’s a bit simplistic, but the fact remains, that while I am sitting on the side of the road lamenting how I ended up here, I am not getting any closer to my destination.

So, how long will you sit on the side of the road complaining about your situation before you get the tire jack out and change your flat or get Road Side Assistance headed your way to fix your problem? For me, it was only one day.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Looking Down the Road

As I have mentioned before, people most often want to know what is different this time for me.  But another popular question I get is “what will you do when you hit your goal?” And the answer is simple…nothing. I’m not looking too far down the road right now, but I do have my final destination in my mind. I can plan for the future, but I can’t live in it.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I take a long road trip, I always learn something (accidental or intentional): where the cheapest gas is, where the cleanest restrooms are, that the Florida FWC doesn't know that there are no such things as “poisonous snakes” (for the record, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation, the word is venomous!), that SiriusXM is better than trying to find local radio stations in every town, etc. This journey is no different. As long as I continue to learn little tips and tricks along the way, I know that once I reach my final destination, staying the course will be a breeze!

I have made such a sweeping change in how I am living my life, that there is no need to go back to the old way of doing things. Will I allow myself some things that I currently avoid? Yes, if I want them. I have noticed that there are some foods that I would have killed for in the past, but they no longer hold the same appeal for me. Another change for me is that I listen to my body more these days. If I eat something and it doesn't agree with me, there is no need to eat it again (I feel certain that McDonald’s is on this list, although I haven’t tested the theory!) In the past, I would have had that food again and not given it a second thought, no matter how bad (“bad= sick” or “bad= guilty”) I felt.

So, I can ponder what I will do when I hit my final goal, but there really is no need to dwell on it, as this is my lifestyle now. I know that I have been given the tools and the knowledge to continue living a healthier life and I have no fear of going back to the old way of doing things. I may take time to celebrate my accomplishment, but nothing will change…I must keep moving forward. And that is why the answer to the question is “nothing.”

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Passing Landmarks

Because I have made the drive to Atlanta so many times, I have just about every nook and cranny of Interstate 75 memorized. Along the way, I always look for my personal landmarks so that I know how far I’ve gone and how much of my trip remains. Some of my favorites include: a land bridge over 75 just south of Ocala, Exit 5 (just over the Georgia-Florida border) and finally, the south loop of 285. Once I hit that south side of 285, I know downtown Atlanta is not far off and I will be on the north side of the city and headed to my old stompin’ grounds in a relatively short period of time!

I bring up all these little landmarks, because they help put my road trip in perspective. I also have little landmarks for my weight-loss road trip. If I had come into the first meeting told everyone in the room, including myself, that I was planning on losing at least 100 pounds (actually, I am at 120 lbs. as of this writing), I’m pretty sure I would have sabotaged my agenda. To put that kind of pressure on myself would be silly, stupid and counterproductive. So, as is the way with the WW plan, my first goal was a manageable five pounds. And you know what, I hit that after my first full week! Next! The second challenge was to lose 5% of my body weight. It took me a few weeks, but I did that, too. So within the first two months of being on this program, I had already achieved multiple milestones. Starting in September means that I would have a tough road ahead with the holidays right around the corner. However, by the time January rolled around, I realized that I hadn’t gained any weight and I was on the verge of my next landmark: 10% of my starting weight gone! Eventually, the 25 lb., 50 lb., 75 lb. and 100 lb. landmarks were not far behind.

I have said this before, and I will continue to say it: this is a long journey, not a quick trip to the store. There are no easy fixes and no shortcuts, believe me, I have looked! I would much rather have Samantha or Jeanie blink and make me thin than have to stay on this course the rest of my life, but I have also learned that I appreciate the things in life that I work hard to achieve, while the stuff that is handed to me often times gets tossed aside. These landmarks along the way are tangible reminders as to how tough this road trip really is and the sacrifices and changes I have made in order to achieve my current success.

So, what are your landmarks? How will you learn to appreciate the journey you are taking? Will you take the time to reflect on your successes? It’s not bragging, you know. It simply letting people know that you have come a long way and you want to share your excitement with them.