Coach V. posted another video yesterday, and again it was perfect timing for me. It’s almost like she’s living in my brain!

One of the things that she talked about was our progress, or more specifically, our probable lack of progress.  She assured us that after having seen literally hundreds of women go through this program, that most typically don’t see weight loss or measurement progress until at least 8-12 weeks into it.

Whew!  What a relief!  I’m not a failure.  

In the last 6 weeks, I’ve seen very little movement in either direction, which logically makes sense but emotionally is sometimes a little difficult to deal with.  I need to keep reminding myself that this isn’t a weight loss program, it’s a method for transforming my bad habits to healthy habits that I’ll be able to maintain for a lifetime.  And as such, since we’re only 6 weeks in, we’re still working on building the foundation of these habits and not yet even talking about specific foods or food plans or anything like that.

I have to admit, though — because people know that I’m doing this, I get a lot of “So, how much weight have you lost so far?” type questions.  And then I’m put in the position of explaining that no, I haven’t lost weight, and yes, that’s normal for this program.  People who aren’t familiar with Lean Eating tenets have this common misconception — that it’s just another program geared towards nothing but dropping pounds.  Thing is, I know how to lose weight — if that was all Lean Eating was, I wouldn’t be here.  What I’ve never mastered, however, is doing it in such a way where weight loss isn’t the main goal but rather a side effect of healthy changes I’ve made to my lifestyle.

So, because progress at this stage can be a mental bugaboo that can cause nothing but unneeded frustration, Coach V. proposed a deal:  we focus on the habits and getting our training in, and she’ll keep track of the numbers. We need to let that part go — other than entering the data, don’t think about it, don’t worry about it, don’t let it get in your head and drive you crazy.  She’ll keep tabs on things and if she sees that you’re headed in the wrong direction, she’ll be the one to start up a conversation with you about it.

And that’s a huge burden lifted off my shoulders!  I wouldn’t have guessed that it would be, but it most certainly is.  I like being given permission to only concentrate on the things that I have direct control over.  It means that the important stuff is what will be getting my attention which will be way easier on my little pea brain than my normal over-analysis of the numbers.

So, I’ve got a job to do:  head down, habits practiced, workouts done.  Easy.

Clarke trying to hide under the bed
and not quite succeeding…

He looks completely innocent, doesn’t he?

Clarke probably thought he was doing me a favor: as I rushed to get my storm-hating dog Belle out for a quick walk before the rain hit, Clarke got out of his cage (I had not locked it down like I should have) and helped himself to half of my Jimmy Johns roast beef sandwich.

As soon as I walked back in the house, he looked at me and went directly to his cage.  He knew.

I had been out running some errands and let myself get really hungry, which is why I opted to pick up Jimmy Johns — I just didn’t feel like cooking up something once I got home. In the back of the mind, I knew I’d have to be careful, though — be mindful to not inhale it just because I hadn’t eaten in 6 hours or so and my stomach felt like it was starting to digest itself.

But I was looking forward to the challenge of being in a position of having to really eat slowly and pay attention! Bring it on!

Clarke, on the other hand, probably thought I wasn’t up for it and took it upon himself to help me out. He’s always looking out for me like that.  And he did leave me all the vegetables, so there’s that.  Oh, and about half a sandwich worth of meat and cheese. 

Clarke did portion control for me.  Gooood doooog.  If only I could teach him to do laundry and take out the garbage…

After a long day of network troubleshooting (both work and personal), my brain is mush. So, I’m taking the easy way out today and just posting a link to a TEDblog article that discusses why it’s so difficult to lose weight and keep it off.  Essentially, your brain doesn’t want you to.  Perhaps you should go read it to fill in the blanks from my 6-word cliffnotes summary.

I thought it was really interesting how this article reinforces the critical nature of the two most important LE habits: eating slowly and stopping before you’re completely full. These two habits are part of what this researcher touts as the only way to really keep off weight because otherwise, it takes too much willpower, which is in short supply.

Really, willpower sucks.  Since it’s such a limited resource, instead you need to learn to rely on listening to your body — eating mindfully, she calls it.  Sound familiar? 

So – seriously – go read it.  You’ll be happy you did.

Actual wrapper!

I’ve got a Dove chocolate wrapper saying that I keep posted:  Be fearless. Chocolate’s pretty wise, eh?

So simple, yet not at all easy.  

Today’s assignment got us thinking about the fears that keep us from doing the things we want and those that stand in the way of our goals. Peeling back the layers of the fear — starting at the superficial fears and working down towards the deep-seated, I-hope-no-one-finds-out fears — is one way to get to the core of what it is you’re scared of and then figuring out how to push through it.

For me, I’m the queen of self-sabotage.  Diet going well?  Losing weight, feeling great? Well, then, it’s about time to stop training and go out and get a dozen donuts!

It took me a long time to realize that this was something I was inflicting on myself instead of something that “just happened”, silly as that sounds.  And it stemmed from one very base fear that I have:  the fear of failure. When things start moving in the right direction, there’s a part of me that’s quite sure that I won’t be able to keep it up and I figure I might as well end the streak on my own terms.  I don’t want to give it my best effort, fail and then have to admit to myself and the world that my best effort wasn’t good enough.

Makes sense, right?

Having put words to this takes away some of its power.  Doesn’t make it easier to combat, but — ironically — makes me more inclined to work hard so that no one thinks that I just threw the opportunity away (the power of what other people might think!).

Think about all the things you’d do if you weren’t afraid! Figure that out and then go do it anyway.

(I sound like a motivation poster, don’t I?)

Yesterday’s assignment talked about being uncomfortable.  Not wedgie-in-your-butt uncomfortable (though that ranks right up there!), but the discomfort that comes when you do something that’s new or unfamiliar.  You’re a little on edge, a touch anxious, a bit worried … you know what I’m talking about.

Now, for me this has taken a couple of different forms since I’ve started Lean Eating, but probably the most prevalent has been trying to teach myself to be okay with being hungry. Notice the hunger, but don’t react to it.  

I always bought into the raw science of calories in/calories out as a diet plan, but limiting calories had proven problematic for me.  So, I did the next best thing:  for a number of years I simply out-trained my bad eating. But once I stopped with the training, I had nothing going for me to negate my embarrassingly awful nutritional bad habits. Which brings me here — writing a daily blog about the results of those habits.

One of the side effects of my over-eating is that I’m not used to be hungry.  I just never allow it to happen.  I don’t *like* being hungry (who does?). It’s uncomfortable and a little disconcerting, to tell you the truth.  

But now I need to leave my proverbial comfort zone and start to become friends with hunger. If I know that I’ve eaten what I should and fueled myself appropriately, then I don’t need to automatically make the hunger go away. Instead I should welcome the hunger in, give it a nice pillow and blanket and invite it to stay awhile.  Understand that it’s not a bad thing — it’s only negative if I choose to see it that way — and what it really means is that my body is working properly and sending me the right signals to help me determine what it needs.

I make it sound easy, don’t I?  Of course, it isn’t (hunger isn’t always the best house guest, as I’m finding out). But if I intend to make any progress (and I do!), I’ll have to keep working at this. I’ve got to get to where that magic happens!

Today wasn’t the best day ever.  It was a Monday, in every sense of the word.

Work was chaotic and I ended up staying much later than I intended.  After finally getting home, I had a paper to edit, dogs to feed and walk, me to feed and then a Google Hangout with my Lean Eating buds.

Because I was feeling stressed and pressed for time, I ate while editing.  With a lot of awareness, I shoveled in chips and guacamole and a sandwich without even tasting it.  And you know what?  I couldn’t have cared less.  I knew what I was doing and I did it anyway because it would have been hard to do things the right way and I just didn’t feel like it.  I fell into the whole “it was a bad day and I deserve to eat whatever I want” trap.

So, it was coming up on 7pm — time for my Google Hangout/accountability meeting — and I was not only feeling stuffed and cruddy, but guilty on top of that.  I thought about not getting online for the meeting because I’d either have to lie about my day or ‘fess up and I really hate admitting to people when I’ve failed.

The old me would have made an excuse not to go.  The new me — despite also being the new me that still had tortilla chip dust on my fingers — decided that I needed the meeting.  And you know what?  Talking to the other women, telling them about my day and the choices I made… it was good.  It felt like by getting it out in the open, it no longer had the power to weigh me down.  Confession is good for the soul (or, at least that’s what my Catholic upbringing pounded into me).

It happened, and I wish I could have acted differently, but these moments are a part of life and really, my success will depend on being able to shrug them off and get right back at it. As my mentor said, if everything were always perfect, you’d never learn.  It’s the mistakes and the tangents and bumps in the road that teach the lessons that will stick with you.

So, I’ll wipe off the tortilla chip dust and pick myself back up and make better choices next time.  Because there’s always another chance to make a good decision, right?

Five weeks into the program — about 10% done! — and I feel like things are just starting to click into place for me. Late this week, I finally had enough of feeling like I was “gaming the system” by eating crap but just eating it slowly and not being over-stuffed (“I’m following the rules!”).  Made the decision to stay away from the crappiest of the crap — the low-hanging chocolate bars, so to speak — and concentrate on putting more whole foods into my body.

And that’s sparked a renaissance of sorts for me — it’s like I flipped a switch and all of a sudden eating pizza and candy and ice cream isn’t who I am.  Aha!  It’s that whole “identity” thing creeping up on me, methinks!  I don’t suspect that I’m cured now, but this mindset will make it easier to git’r’done.  I’m happy to report that I did all my grocery shopping for the week and I managed to steer clear of most of the treats that I usually buy for myself.

With that, here’s a rundown of my week:

Finally some progress!  Weight is remaining pretty stubborn, but the more-important measurements are improving.  his makes me pretty dang happy.  It’s not much, but it’s enough to keep me plugging away at this.

This is still going well. Training is part of my identity, so when I wasn’t doing it, I felt like a fraud.  It feels great to be hitting it 5x/week.  From now until the end of time (well, the end of Precision Nutrition time, I suppose), the weekly template will be 3 strength sessions, 2 interval sessions, 1 active recovery day and 1 rest day.  Totally doable.  And I can’t wait to start increasing my run distance/pace, too — I’m not yet feeling like a runner, but I certainly *am* a runner.

This week was the introduction of the second cornerstone habit:  to stop eating when I’m 80% full. I’ve struggled to wrap my mind around this one.  I mean, what’s 80%?  How do you measure that?  For my black and white mathematical brain, this proved a challenge. What turned this around for me was learning to use the hunger scale instead — a 1 to 10 scale of hunger, where you eat when you’re around a 2-3 and stop eating when you’re at a level 7-8.  For whatever reason, this was much easier for me to grasp.  Since implementing this, I think I’ve made good progress with this habit though it’s still very much a work in progress.

The problem with having a dog and only eating until 80% full

Habit Log:
Weeks 1-2: Fish oil and probiotic
Weeks 3-4: Eating slowly

Week 5:  Stop eating at 80% full

Today was another measurement day — the fifth one so far — and finally (finally!) I’m starting to see some movement in the downward direction.

Not much, mind you, but enough to tell me that the changes I’ve made this week are making a difference.  My weight is down almost a pound (though I’m still a touch above where I started), but my measurements are down almost 2″. That’s an accomplishment I can hang my hat on! Not that I know how you can hang a hat on an accomplishment, but let’s not nitpick.

Lean Eating website in the background! I’m so dedicated…

This morning after taking all my measurements, I was rummaging through one of my drawers and found this bracelet that my awesome sister bought for me a few years ago.  After a few months of not wearing it, it was perfect timing (or fate?) that I found it today. It says “Celebrate Small Victories” — so true!  I need to make sure that I take the time to do a little happy dance and tell myself that I’m totally awesome when I see progress. Like I was saying yesterday, it’s all about consistently making good choices. And it’s not surprising that good results make me want to create MORE good results. Which should lead to all sorts of happy dances. Funny how that works.

I’ve said it before:  I’m all about the gold stars. They make me want to do good and be better.  The one part I have to work on, though, is not waiting for someone else to stick them on me — I’ve got to learn to give myself those gold stars.  The self-pat on the back is what it’s all about.

I read this nugget of wisdom in the forums awhile back (I’m paraphrasing because I can’t find the original posting and my memory doesn’t totally work anymore):

Every meal is an opportunity to reach your goal.

In the past when I’ve been trying to drop some weight, there’s a lot of “well, one dinner doesn’t matter” and “just tonight I’ll eat the entire pint of ice cream”.  I fail to see any single meal as significant.

And this is true and yet oh so false.  Like, sneaky-devil-on-my shoulder-whispering-in-my-ear false.

Of course, it’s true in the obvious sense:  one meal will not guarantee either total success or total failure on this journey. There’s always room for compromise and food that’s not necessarily on the “healthy” list.  And, I’d be Ms. Cranky Pants if you told me that I could never again eat pizza or chocolate again, for example.

But believing that no single meal is significant can lead me down a rabbit hole of bad choices. It’s a slippery slope — one binge almost always leads me to another.  It’s like that first string of bad choices are my gateway drug into a world of indiscriminate cookie, candy and ice cream inhalation.

The lesson for me is that on a consistent basis I have to view every single meal as an opportunity — and by consistently taking advantage of all of these opportunities, I can craft an identity and lifestyle that supports a new, healthy me.  You know, that athlete that I want be again.

Every goal is reached by collecting a bunch of good choices and hard work and putting it together like pieces of a puzzle, each a stepping stone.

Just a few random notes because I’m a little pressed for time:

  1. This week we are now doing 3 sets of all the strength exercises.  I appreciate the extra work, but it’s starting to bore me a little.  I’m happy that the routine will be switched up in another 2 weeks.
  2. I was unable to resurrect my DVR box from the dead, but the interaction with AT&T to get a new one was surprisingly painless!  Got the new one in a day and it’s up and running with no issue. Of course, I lost all my recordings (boo!), but it kept all my settings so I don’t have to set all my programs back up again.  
  3. Awareness takes a lot of mental work.  Just saying.
  4. My back is feeling pretty dang good.  It’s sore and bruised, but not feeling fragile like it had been, if you know what I mean.  Did strength training today with no modifications and no pain!
  5. The dogs are at doggy day care and I’m selfishly leaving them there a little longer to get a few things done around the house without canine “assistance”.  Does that make me a bad doggie mom?
  6. I’ve had two (mostly) sugar-free days.  Recently I’ve been fiercely craving chocolate and all things sugary, so this is small victory for me.  Of course, sugar-free does not (yet) include giving up my morning Diet Pepsi.
  7. I’m surprised at how much of the Lean Eating program is mental and emotional work rather than just following a diet and exercise program.  In some ways this is easier (I’m still enjoying my Diet Pepsi!), but in other ways, it’s much harder.  I’m good at burying things and am thinking that there might be an exhumation somewhere along the way.