Because I had such an overwhelming response to my recent blog post, I reached out to another client, and asked her to share her story:
Karen: I hesitated when Lesia asked me to share my weightloss journey, asking her if I could think about it. However, when I went back and reread Heather’s story, I decided to do it. We are all in this together!! So here is my story of weekend disasters and tearful Mondays on the scale:
During the week, I have a routine and rhythm to my days. I go to the gym, go to work, drive home, do household chores and errands, make dinner, help my kids with homework and get them to bed. This structure completely disappears on the weekends, however. While I look forward to the weekend all week, when it arrives, instead of feeling happy and relaxed, I find myself feeling a bit anxious, depressed and unmotivated. By Sunday night, I am upset that I’ve not accomplished more, have not had any “me” time and was not on plan. And so what do I do? I go into the kitchen and eat! UGH! I go to bed feeling defeated. Then, the self talk begins:
“You will never get this weight off! Who are you kiddin?
You will always be fat and out of shape! You are a loser.”
Seriously, this is how I speak to myself. Lesia tells me if you would not say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself. I have to tell you when I am with my kids or with my friends or family I happily snack on whatever is placed in front of me — with no regard to my goals. Somehow, I forget how bad I feel about how I look. It’s like the concept of the scale and my journal just evaporates — until Monday morning, when it all comes flooding back! Why does this happen to me every weekend? When Monday comes, I feel defeated and my self-talk begins:
Why bother? Why work so hard? Stay overweight.
You’ll never succeed in losing these pounds!
I hear Lesia in my head telling me to be kinder to myself. She tells me habit change requires time and constant attention until it becomes, well, habitual. When we first started working on this, I did not believe her. Actually, I doubted her big time. But, six months into behavior change, and I have to tell you, she is right!!
Of course, I am far from perfect but I am at least 20% better in staying on program. This is huge, as I have never gotten this far before, and I am starting to believe I will continue to eat normally and be at a weight that does not make me want to hide. I have my ninja on!! (This is what my 10 year old calls it.) Believe me, if I can do this, anyone can. There are no hopeless causes. It takes work and perseverance. If I can do it so can you!
Lesia and I decided to not completely structure me on weekends, but devised a semi-structured eating and living weekend plan. We worked my Saturday and Sunday based upon what usually fills my weekends: errands, gym, grocery shopping, kid activities, church, friends and family and chores.
Lesia and I have worked on this for six months and I can tell you I now have a flow. It is working! I have to tell you, I was skeptical at first. But it is definitely working, the scale does not lie! I want to do more, because I see the results, but Lesia said habits take time, practice and patience. So I continue to practice. My weight loss is consistent at 1 pound per week. I went from losing and gaining the same 3 pounds every week/weekend to consistently dropping one pound. Thank you, Lesia!
Thank you, Karen, for sharing your story. You left out a lot of the tears and struggle you went through. You were and are very brave to trust me and now you’re seeing it pay off. Brava!
What Karen and I are working on is getting out of the thinking that weekends equal free-for-all. Take a look at the word ‘week/weak- end”. It should read: strong end. This is the time to relax and unwind — without abusing food or yourself. Our culture encourages TGIF and party time on the weekend. But how many of you come off an overeating weekend really feeling good about yourself, about your body??
Having a structure of eating and play allows you to relish the downtime without slipping into a free for all. What’s more, the program allows for eating out at restaurants. (lt shocks me how many people don’t confer with me as to what to order. Those who do are happily surprised at what they can have!!) You can enjoy life and still arrive on Monday energized and feeling good about all you did and all you ate. It is about retraining your brain and creating a new habit. Speak to your coaches about this. We are here to help you succeed!! You can do it!
P.S. If you feel these stories help you and you would like to share your story, please text me!
Habits are an integral part of our lives. Think about all the habits you have, which started in child or early adulthood. While some habits are helpful and beneficial, there are others, for all of us, that need to go. . .
Take parenting for instance. As parents, we change our child(ren)’s habits. Potty training is a great example of this. Since birth, you have allowed your child to poop or pee in his pants. Now, several years into this established routine, you have to retrain his brain to go on a toilet. If you have ever potty-trained a toddler, you know exactly what I am talking about. If you have never potty trained a child, you still know what I am talking about.
At Mind, Body & Soul Fitness, we are working with our weight loss clients, trying to change years of wrong thinking surrounding food. One popular thought is that “Weekends are for Eating.” You would be surprised at how many of our clients see weekends as “mini” holidays or “cheat” days. This is what I want to help you with today: how to reprogram your thought processes so that you will have greater control over your eating. I am happy to be able to share a break-through moment I had with one of my clients. I asked Heather if I could share her story and she kindly agreed.
Heather: “I went to bed super early last night. Yesterday was not one of my better days. I came home from work early and struggled with eating as I’d anticipated I would. It was a snow day with my kids playing outside, then coming in to drink hot chocolate with marshmallows. I was baking cookies and scones to go with it. We are a family that’s always in the kitchen. We feel joy when gathered together and comfort food only makes it that much better. At one point, I left the kitchen to take a shower, so I could take a break and really think about what I was doing. While I didn’t stay on plan (I was picking at the treats), I didn’t totally binge out either. In the past, I would have. I chose to stop eating and move on. I also know I won’t allow one bad day to ruin my progress. I see that this is not about one day, it’s about the journey and reaching my goal destination. In the shower, I kept thinking about how far I’ve come and how I didn’t want to prolong the process. I promised myself I’d stop picking and that instead I would bundle up and shovel some snow!”
Heather: “I have this saying up on my desk at work, it’s one of my favorite quotes and it helps me visualize my weight loss journey. I am also making a paper chain, as per Lesia’s suggestion. This way, I can see my progress. It’s my “retraining-the-brain” chain. I add a link for each pound I lose in white, and then add a link in a different color when I successfully modify my behavior.”
Heather is making very good progress indeed! And in creating the chain, she can see how often she breaks bad food habits. Remember, it is the many small links that make the chain strong.
If you are struggling on the weekends, pick one thing you want to work on to create a new habit. Let’s say your big weekend challenge is “no structure.” Create a small change list. Start with your wake-up time, then choose what time you will have breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner. If your big weekend challenge is believing “weekends are for eating big meals” than start with one change: plan out what you will eat and the portion size.
Please know these changes will take time and patience. If your goal is to lose weight and learn to keep it off, there will be several changes needed to get there. It’s a multi-layered approach. Understand that behavior changes need to be a lifetime change. Talk to your food coach if you need more help with this.
Remember, weight loss doesn’t mean you can never have this food or that dish ever again, it means eating all food in moderation. Stabilization goes into more detail about this. But, until then, work on achieving the small links that will absolutely lead to forever success!!
So many of my clients tell me that they start their mornings off with such optimism, only to have these feelings derailed as their day wears on. This happens to all of us, believe me. But there are ways to keep your peace and positivity throughout the day. I would like to share what I do.
My process starts the night before. . .
Write Your List
Before you go to bed, take some time, maybe 15 to 20 minutes, to write down what tasks you plan to accomplish the following day. Do you have small children? Are you taking care of sick or older parents? Once you have your list, triage the items. Prioritize what has to be done tomorrow and decide what can wait for another day. Consider which tasks might be handled by another.
Honor and Process Your Feelings
If you feel anxious about one of the tasks you need to do, get out your journal and write about why you feel anxious. Writing out your thoughts will help you to determine if your feelings are valid. If they are, talk about the issue with your coach or a trusted friend. Voicing your concerns aloud will help you find a way through them.
Still Your Racing Mind
After journaling and bringing up the emotions, your mind may start to race. To calm yourself, read a short Bible verse or another spiritual text you enjoy. Or do a breathing exercise or practice some form of stretching. For some a hot bath is relaxing. Try one or all of these strategies to self-soothe, to see which one works for you.
Try going to sleep with a weighted blanket or heated microwaveable beads. The heat and pressure will cradle you, and make you feel calm. (Babies love to be swaddled because it feels secure and safe, and we adults are no different!!)
Wake-up Before Your Alarm
Set your alarm 10 minutes earlier than you would normally arise. Use that time for your daily devotional or daily stretching practice, and then mentally review your day. I have done this for years, and the amount of time I allow myself has gradually increased. Now I am often up two hours before I have to walk out the door for exercise class. I really enjoy starting my day with prayer and reviewing my agenda; doing so is crucial to setting the tone for my day.
Congratulations on beginning to learn the techniques that will keep you in control of your peace each and every day.
Having a morning routine of your own creation will reduce your anxiety and set you up for success. It will not only help you stick to your weight loss or maintenance program, it will make you more productive and energetic. I practice all of the techniques listed below, and they not only work – they are life-changing!
Wake Up Early
When you wake up early, you have plenty of time to set the tone for your day. You have more time to focus on things like self-care and reading that you would otherwise miss out on if you are rushing out the door. Stay off of screens for a good 2 hours. Don’t clutter your mind. Stay on course.
Make Your Bed
Making your bed is a powerful practice because it allows you to successfully complete a task first thing in the morning. This simple act then builds momentum so that you continue to successfully complete tasks throughout the rest of the day.
Pray/Make Time for Faith
The time you spend in God’s presence will never be in vain. When you give God your morning, He will take care of the rest of your day. When you place yourself in the Lord’s presence, you will discover the whole day improves with that small offering. Talk to Him; He waits for you in the stillness, in the silence of your heart.
Consider and Affirm
Sit with your day. Where do you anticipate issues? Consider what your challenge(s) will be and rehearse in your mind what you will do. This way, when the time comes, you will be prepared. State three positive affirmations to take with you during your day. Plan what you will enjoy, as doing so will put your mind into a positive mode and trigger your brain to see the day’s upside.
Start out each day with a daily intention. It could be as simple as “I will be present today” or “I will choose to see the beauty in everything that happens to me today.” The practice of being intentional about what you want your day’s purpose to be will soothe your anxious thoughts.
Exercise is a must for long-term physical and emotional health. Plus, it is a great mood enhancer! Start your day off with a walk or another physical activity you enjoy.
Write the three things you are most grateful for each morning. The key here is not to repeat that you are grateful for your family, life, and God, but instead focus on being aware of the smaller things in life: a smell that stirs a fond memory, a song that reminds you of a time or person, the five minutes you have had to just do nothing, just to be. Mental health studies have unequivocally shown that practicing gratitude reduces both anxiety and depression.
- What task, if completed successfully, would make all the other tasks unnecessary?
- What task do I have the most anxiety about?
- What task will move me closer to accomplishing my goals?
Even a basic plan of attack for your day can drastically reduce your anxiety.
Those who plan succeed! Spend 20 minutes preparing the night before, so your morning will go smoothly. Get lunches made, lay out clothes and organize breakfast foods. When you plan the night before, you are less stressed and thus ready to begin your day peacefully and with intention.
The most important strategy of all is to remember that however you choose to consciously create your morning, your practice needs to be sustainable for YOU: the best routine is the one you actually stick to.
Give it a go!