Sunday, June 19, 2011

Addictions, Compulsions and Habits

I sat down tonight to write about my odd addiction. But then I actually looked up the word addiction. According, to Merriam-Webster an addiction involves a substance (doesn't apply to mine) and withdrawal. Since, I am pretty sure I wouldn't have a physical reaction if I stopped cold turkey, I need to drill back the drama and stop thinking of this as an addiction.

Which brings me to the my odd compulsion. A compulsion according to Mr. Merriam (or Mr. Webster) is "an irresistible impulse to perform an act." Now given that I have resisted on a few, albeit not enough, instances, this must not be a compulsion either.

So I am left with an odd habit, or "an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary." But the word habit doesn't pack the same punch as addiction or compulsion. Quite honestly, it now seems like something I should just take control of and get over and that all that can probably be conquered without psychiatric help. So much for the interesting component.

Regardless, what I am talking about is my love of the drive-thru. Its not fast food that I love. It is the drive-thru. Since I began the healthiest year of my life, I have only had typical fast food once. (I say typical because I am not counting Subway here or multiple Diet Cokes from Sonic.) There is something about the convenience of a drive-thru that keeps me coming back for more.

I thought once I stopped eating fast food, my drive-thru days would be over. But I started driving through multiple times a day for soda, even though QT is cheaper and more reliable. Now that I am down to one soda a day and soon will not be drinking it at all, I was positive my drive-thru days would be limited to the bank. So why am I currently evaluating the ice tea of all drive-thrus in a 20 mile radius? Because apparently, I am addicted, oops I mean, have a drive-thru habit.

So now what? "I am Debi and I have a drive-thru habit." I can admit its a problem. But where do I go from here? If you are saying to yourself "Just stay the hell out of the drive-thru," I have said that many a times, but I always end up back, usually with a new justification.

So I am saying it again, the 10,327th time is a charm, right? "Just stay the hell out of the drive-thru." I probably need to come up with some reward to keep me focused, but the only one that comes to mind right now is a big Diet Pepsi and that kind of defeats the point.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Challenge That Is Vacation

I spent the last four days out of town with my daughter, my parents and my sister's family. Why is it so hard to stay in a healthy state of mind for no other reason than you uttered the word vacation? Does being on vacation and not answering to your usual responsibilities really mean that you have none? No. I still had responsibilities, namely my daughter, but also responsibilities to myself to not abandon my goals.

Food was a challenge. It always is for me. You don't overcome 40 years of bad food habits just because you started a blog and spoke the words "healthiet year of my life." I think I did okay. I didn't deprive myself of anything, but I did consciously make my food decisions. Some of those decisions limited me to a single trip to the breakfast buffet and a healthy helping of oatmeal and others included homemade chips and fried pickles.

I am reading Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project, which I am really enjoying. One of the points she makes is that you should frame the changes you want to make in the positive. And I have been thinking a great deal about this and trying to implement this where it makes sense. So when ordering room service at 8 pm I didn't say "I can't have the sandwich because it comes with fries." Instead, I thought, I really want to have energy and sleep well tonight so I should have a salad not the chicken sandwich. I finished the salad and didn't feel stuffed to the gills and felt pretty good about the decision I had made. No guilt here. Similarly, when I had the homemade chips and fried pickles, I decided that I really wanted them and knew I would have a lighter dinner because of the choice I was making.

On the soda front, I stuck to the plan... nearly. Each night we were away I ordered a pitcher of iced tea from room service. This kept the soda obsession at bay. But last night after we saw Noah the Musical it was too late for room service. So I did get a soda from Sonic. And tonight as we came home, it was after my 2 pm no soda deadline. I knew I didn't have any tea at home and I can't stand the taste of tap water so again I had a Sonic soda. I didn't order the Route 44 I usually would have, but instead a 32 ounce. Now that may not sound like much of a sacrifice, but for me its a pretty big distinction.

I am still not exercising. I know I need to make time for this, especially as the rest of this month is going to get pretty stressful work wise.

I did pretty well at getting the required 7 hours of sleep. However, while I do feel better rested, I am still tired much of the time. I think I am someone who requires more like 8 or 9 hours of sleep for optimal rest. But right now 7 is as good as it gets.

So the scale will show tomorrow how much damage was done by vacation. I am hoping not to much, but I do expect some gain. But regardless of what the scale says I am not giving up making this the healthiest year of my life.

I want to start small weekly goals tomorrow. Anyone have a suggestion of what it should be?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Progress at a Snail's Pace

So it has been almost a week. One week into the healthiest day of my life. Let me reflect on the three areas I am supposed to be focused on.

Food: This hasn't been as hard as I thought it was going to be, in most cases. I have accepted that my current obligations require that I eat out. So I dropped $7.99 on the Eat This Not That app so I could at least make better decisions. I have also been pretty successful in choosing Subway or the like when fast food cannot be avoided.

So where are the challenges? Surprisingly, breakfast is a big challenge. Mornings are hectic for me and hectic might be putting it lightly. I need to figure out breakfasts that I can either prepare ahead or that I can grab on the go. So far that has been a jar of pineapple chunks and maybe a hunk of cheese from the gas station. I would love to hear your ideas for breakfast.

I attended a wedding this weekend and without guilt had a piece of wedding cake. I am not really a cake person, but I love wedding cake. I was able to eat it without guilt because I had been making good choices. The problem is once I let myself have a little leeway, I seem to lose focus and continue to justify bad choices. So I started Monday feeling a little defeated.

Then I stepped on the scale and was down 2 pounds. Not bad for small changes. (And I noticed that I feel and look less bloated since I have avoided fast food.) So I immediately felt a bit encouraged and was back on track. Even turned down a Dilly Bar that evening. (If it had been a Buster Bar, I might be telling a different story, though).

But tonight, I kind of lost perspective. I made good food choices all day and met a friend and her daughter for dinner. Since we both had toddlers with us, we opted for IHOP. Keeping in mind that IHOP receives an F grade in the Eat This Not That app, I figured if there is no right choice I should just choose what I normally would have. So I ate too much and now feel bloated and stuffed.

Just because a place offers options for good choices, doesn't mean I will make one.

Exercise: I wish I could tell you that I am exercising every other day and am almost in love with it. To be honest, I haven't really exercised at all. I have thought about it alot, but by the time A. is asleep I am exhausted. I will try and do better.

Sleep: I have done surprising well here also, with the exception of tonight. I have got seven hours of sleep every night. But here is the catch, I am not sure if it is because I am entering into a deeper sleep when I sleep more, but I am having a much harder time getting up than when I was sleeping less and exhausted all the time. I am consistently snoozing my alarm with no recollection of it happening. Luckily, work is pretty flexible and we have yet to miss breakfast at daycare.

Soda: Okay, I know this wasn't one of the original goals, but it is a biggie for me. I have stuck to my soda schedule. We are up to 6 pm and tomorrow it will be back to 5. So far so good. Keep your fingers crossed.

So to recap, I now have two rules of a healthy life
1.) No Nutella in the house. It is reserved for trips to France only.
2.) Just because a restaurant has some healthy alternatives, doesn't mean I should eat there. IHOP falls into this category. I am sure there will be others.

Starting Monday I am going to set small weekly goals. Any thoughts on what they should be? I would love to hear your suggestions.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Mistake, A Lesson Learned and a Plan for the Soda Habit

Day 1: Done.

Seriously, it wasn't so bad. But let's review the highlights.

A Mistake: I ate some restaurant leftovers for dinner. I justified it by telling myself that the portions were small. However, the sodium content was large. So I felt pretty yucky after. But I hadn't exercised yet, so I figured that would make me feel a bit better. Which brings me to...

The Stars Are Aligned Against Me: During my physical this morning, my doctor was saying that the best thing we can do for our kids in terms of exercise is to have them see us exercising. I usually exercise after A. (my daughter) goes to bed. This is a problem because I usually end up falling asleep too. But I am just neurotic enough to envision her hand getting caught in the treadmill, so I tell myself I should wait till she is asleep. Actually, she is pretty timid about everything and won't go near the treadmill while it is running.

So with the doctor's advice on my mind. I headed to the treadmill for my promised 30 minutes before she went to bed. A. came in and began playing with her Little People town in between long periods of staring at the treadmill. (In all fairness, up until now the treadmill had mostly been filled with Little People stuff. So I think she felt a little like an invaded country.) But as she played I began to smell that odor that tells a parent no matter how much you are committed to the exercise, you are not going to be able to get through it until you have changed a diaper. Well, to make a long story short, my daughter, who has only had two previous "blowouts" in her life, left my work out pants covered with a not so lovely substance and a playroom floor in need of bleach wipes. At this point, I abandoned the treadmill and vowed to try again tomorrow.

Lesson Learned: Even at the age of 41, I cannot be trusted to have Nutella in the house. It is the devil's spread.

The Soda Plan: In the spirit of full disclosure, a normal day for me includes more than 150 ounces of diet soda. I love it. I really do. I have read all the articles. I know it is terrible for me. I know it isn't really helping me diet. I know. I really do. But did I mention that I love it?

So here is the plan. Beginning yesterday I am going to cut off my soda drinking one hour earlier until I am no longer drinking soda. Tonight I can drink soda until 11 pm, tomorrow until 10 pm. With this pattern, I will be soda free by June 19. This is a hard one for me... I really do enjoy my Diet Pepsi.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Today Is the First Day of the Rest of My Life

"Today Is the First Day of the Rest of My Life". This was written on a little sticker that had been stuck to our mirror when I was growing up. And for whatever reason it has been dancing around in my head for about a week now.

I am not someone you would necessarily call a healthy person -- not unhealthy, but not healthy either. I have never been particularly interested in health or fitness. I played competitive sports in high school, but was only as good as I could be without really putting forth any extra effort. I have never been thin, but throughout my 20s I could maintain my weight without giving it much thought. In my 30s, I began to see a bit of weight gain. Blaming it on moving to a city where I drove more and walked less, I joined a gym. For the next three years I forked out money for a membership and for a time a personal trainer. I sporadically showed up and never committed.

So I sit here now as I do most nights, comfy on the couch with the tv on, and well after I should be in bed. I find myself just past 40, out of shape, overweight and unhealthy. But that is all about to change. I have a plan... sort of.

Tomorrow I will have a physical. Tomorrow I will begin the healthiest year of my life and I plan to blog about it right here. Not so much because I think it will be terribly interesting reading, but more so that I am accountable to it. I hope readers will give me advice, encouragement, perhaps even criticism.

I have been preparing for about a month. Now let's remember that the unhealthy me is the one who has been preparing. So I have eaten all the fast food I believe I love, telling myself that after tomorrow I won't be allowed to have it anymore. I have had cookies for breakfast. I haven't exercised a bit. This should show you what an uphill battle this might be.

I feel I need a format to all this change. And to remind myself that this year isn't about losing weight. It is about being healthy, which right now translates to being able to walk two flights of steps without being winded. There are three main areas that I think need attention.

AREA 1: My Eating Habits
My eating habits need to improve, but as they say "baby steps". So for the first month I am just going to attempt to make the best food choices available to me and be more conscious about my eating. I don't want to overanalyze this area yet and frankly I am not educated enough yet to go too deep. Also, if you know me, you know I have a wicked diet soda habit. I know it needs to go and I have a plan for that too, but remember... baby steps.

AREA 2: Exercise
I am going to start off basic here also. The goal for the first month is to do some sort of exercise for 30 minutes every other day. And it will most likely involve the treadmill and other exercise I can do at home. In future months I would like to try some different types of exercise, hoping to find something I love.

AREA 3: Stress
As I thought about the my sources of stress, they fall into four categories: disorganization, procrastination, lack of sleep and money. The most important of these, I believe is lack of sleep, so the goal is 7 hours every night.

Month 1's goals:
1.) Conscious eating
2.) Exercise for 30 minutes every other day
3.) 7 hours of sleep

I am going to try and set small weekly goals also. Perhaps a habit I wish to develop, a resolve to accomplish some task, just not sure yet. I also haven't quite worked out how much disclosure in terms of weight, etc. I am comfortable with. So all I can promise is that all of my posts will not be this long and I will attempt to be as honest as possible.

So tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my life.