Thursday, February 10, 2011

On and Off the Wagon

One of the most irksome questions that I am often asked about my weight loss is, "What's your secret?"  I know they mean well when they say it, but what I really want to do when I hear this is slap them over the head and say, "Wake up! The reason you can't lose weight is because you are looking for an easy way out."  Instead, I politely tell them, "Sorry, there is no secret. It's just a lot of hard work."

And it is hard work.  I often equate being prone to obesity with being an alcoholic.  It's not something you are ever cured of; it's like a disease that you have to manage throughout your life. The difference is, it's a lot harder than being an alcoholic because you can't just "give up" eating.  You still have to eat every day--several times a day--and it's what you do with every one of those thousands of little decisions that make the difference between being "on" or "off" the wagon, so to speak.

Most days, I sit firmly atop my wagon with my safety belt secured across my lap.  I try to make good decisions:  I don't skip workouts, I try to eat whole, natural foods, and keep my portions in check.  But lately, I find myself hanging on to the back of that wagon with one hand slipping off the bumper.

I've identified a few key areas where I need to improve:

1. Sleep.  Studies have shown that when you sleep better, you eat better.  But I'm seeing the effects of that in reverse right now.  I'm not having any difficulty going to sleep at night, but I'm waking up at 3-4 a.m. every dang night.  I finally fall back asleep at 5-6 a.m., but then I wake up tired.  With my demanding marathon training schedule, I'm finding that I'm reaching for lots of carbs throughout the day to spike my blood sugar to get the bursts of energy I need to make it through the day.  This is not a habit that I can continue.  I have to get back on a sleep schedule, but don't want to rely on sleeping pills.  Any suggestions?

2. Using marathon training as an excuse to eat poorly.  You might be surprised to learn that many people actually gain weight while training for a marathon.  While it is recommended that you eat a carb-heavy diet while training, you can't just sit around eating loaves of bread all day. In my previous two marathon training seasons, I was eating a lot better at this point. I find that a lot of the bad stuff I'm eating comes from a lack of preparation.  When I get home after a long day of work/working out, I just reach for something that's quick without taking into account nutritional value.  While it would be easier for me to go back to eating more frozen, packaged foods, I want to continue to eat mostly organic foods because it really does make me feel better.  This just means I need to spend more time prepping my meals on the weekends.

When I started blogging about my weight loss journey, I knew that it was important to keep it real.  This is why I'm telling you about my struggles along with my successes.  I was talking to my mom on the phone last week and mentioned that I was stressed out about my weight gain.  And, as moms often do, she said the exact right thing at the exact right time:  "Gab, if you can lose 100, you can lose 15."  And there it was, my "a-ha" moment (as Oprah likes to call it).  I'll always continue to struggle with my weight, and I'll have good stretches and bad stretches, but the tool that I have now that I didn't have when I started my journey is perspective.  It's a lot easier to move the molehills once you've moved the mountains.

Today, I'm climbing back up on the wagon and putting the seat belt back on... I'm going to need it, it's going to be a bumpy ride. 


heather said...

gabby love this article-very true alchoholics give up alcohol but in the midst of eating better you can't give up food. and i also don't believe in diets. i believe you must just eat balanced and make healthier choices and if you are craving something it's probably b/c you are lacking-for example if you are craving french fries you probably need a little more salt and/or good fat in your diet or an electrolyte choice drink such as powerade zero and maybe nuts or peanut butter or small amount of olive oil on vegetables.
as far as sleep-well you know i am the worst sleeper---well maybe others think this from how many hours i do sleep but some are affected and others aren't. for you maybe some herb chamomile tea to quiet your mind b/4 bed, my mom drinks some milk as i hear it has a soothing affect. there are natural herbs selenium, or take some lavender room spray or a lavender candle...and/or tylenol pm is always an option too. great article chica!

Gabrielle@Weightless said...

Heather - great advice, thanks! I'm going to try the chamomile tea and maybe get a lavendar candle. I've also heard melatonin works for some people, any thoughts?