Here is an ABC list of what we can do to keep on Keeping the Pounds Off!
A is for ATTITUDE - We have to have a good attitude. Everyday is a gift. Each day we struggle and keep coming back is a day we beat the food monster. Even if you have a day that sucks and you give in, do not give up! Every hour is the start of a new day somewhere on earth. Start again now, today, this minute.
B is for BALANCE - If I am balanced I can juggle many things at the same time. If I am balanced I can be still with grace and ease. If I am off balance I will topple over and my hold on what is important. Balance is not easy but it is not negotiable: without balance something is always going to hold me back.
C is for CONSISTENCY - When I change my routine, my food plan or my action plan, I do it with caution. It has to be because something is not working. I do not change that which works. Consistency helps me to know the difference. Consistency helps me give things a chance so I do not give up on something on a whim. Consistency, done for the right reasons is not dull: it gives me a base from which to soar.
D is for DECISION - Living a life determined to win the battle in today's society of ever increasing/never ending food stimulation requires that we make a decision and stick with it. For me, that decision is to never, never, never, never, never give up (thank you Winston Churchill).
E is for ENERGY - I was amazed at how eating right, exercising and breathing more deeply all led to me waking up each day with more energy. Why would I give that up for a cookie?
F is for FLEXIBILITY - My actions each day include being flexible when needed. If the asparagus is too expensive I can have green beans or broccoli. If the weather is bad I can use the treadmill. If I have a sore knee I can change my exercise plan. If the restaurant does not have skim milk I can skip the coffee or have plain tea. When plans do not go my way I can be open to the detour I must take and find a way to enjoy what is before me even if it is not what I planned for my life today. Lately I have learned I can be flexible enough to share my feelings with more people without constant fear of being hurt. Flexibility is adding exciting dimensions to my life that were missing before.
G is for GRATITUDE - Find reasons to be grateful in everything you do. If I am having a tough day at work I need to pause and look for my gratitude for my income, my career, my clients and the people with whom I interact to make my job possible. When I am feeling less than delighted in keeping the pounds off, I stop and think about gratitude. I am grateful I have lost over 200 pounds and not found them again. I am grateful that as long as I am honest, willing and accepting of what I need to do each day I will never again find any of those pounds on my body. I am grateful I have the capacity to open my mind to new ideas. I am also grateful to be seeking the honest answer to maintaining this weight loss and not the 'easy' answers that later turn out to be the wrong way to go.
H is for HELP- I have to be open to asking for help. I do not just mean help with a project or help with the shopping. I mean help delving into my emotions and working through the feelings. Help working through a loss. Help working through a craving and finding a solution without using food. Anytime I seek help I am helping kill the super inflated ego that tries to take over my life and control the world.
I is for IMAGINATION - I have an incredible imagination. Imagination is a wonderful gift but it can cross into the realm of sickness when I use it to ignore what I need to do to be well. A healthy use would be to imagine my life without all the excess pounds. I imagine a great life without the foods that want to take me back to 385 pounds.
J is for JOY- There is no lasting reason to be sad on this weight loss/maintenance journey. We should take the appropriate amount of time to mourn the things in our life with 'thought' we needed (for me this includes cream cakes, chocolate fudge, pizza and all kinds of cheese). Then we must move on to discovering the joy that comes from a new way of eating and living. If you cannot imagine going to a wedding and not eating the cake (or indulging in the Viennese hour) I am here to tell you there are wonderful non-food experiences to enjoy at a wedding and you will never even miss the dessert if you open yourself to the joy that is waiting out there for you.
K is for K.I.S.S. - This stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid. Anytime things start to feel or look too complicated we can remind ourselves to KISSstupido.
L is for LISTEN - We listen to others who have walked in our post-fat shoes. We do not have to adopt everything that someone else does into our plan but we need to give ourselves the benefit of hearing their experience and listening to it with an open mind. When I listen with an open mind and heart, I absorb today things that might help me six months from now.
M is for MOTIVATION - When the pounds are off, the clothing size stabilizes and the compliments die down are you going to do to get up off your butt and exercise when you do not feel like it? What will give you the motivation to keep from reaching into the party bowl of chips a third or fourth time? It is a good idea to always have a healthy goal to keep you motivated to do the healthy thing, the sane thing, the right thing to keep those pounds from creeping back on. I motivate myself to get on the treadmill by having DVDs I really want to watch ready at the treadmill to be watched only if I am working out on the treadmill while watching them. What motivates you today?
N is for NO - Not why not. Not maybe. Not okay. Not yes. NO. No is a magic word. You can be respectful and loving and set healthy boundaries and still say "no."
O is for OPPORTUNITY - Opportunities present themselves in each minute of the day. I have opportunities to listen, to learn, to really hear, to accept, to appreciate, to admire, to love, to share, dream, to create . . . . Not every opportunity in a day will present itself as a positive but many negatives can become positives it I take the opportunity to see the value in the moment.
P is for PLANS - There is a reason people follow plans. Plans inspire actions that help people succeed. Planning books are used by teachers, students and all types of professionals and private citizens. Plans help keep me focused and able to think when I am crunched for time or bogged down with more than my brain can handle for one day.
Q is for QUESTIONS - ASK THEM. Listen to the answers. Do not be afraid to ask questions or use the information you get in return. INVITE THEM. If you fear answering questions about what you are doing then something you are doing is not right in some way.
R is for READING - Books, news bites, blogs, emails, papers: I always have several books going: a book for my recovery, a book for learning something new, a book for fun and a magazine, blogs and daily emails. I keep highlights with little page flags in my purse and at my reading areas at home to mark things I want particularly to use or remember. These things often help me in keeping the pounds off or in my life and business.
S is for SURVIVOR - I am a Survivor. I have survived extreme obesity and everything that goes with it: public humiliation, lost opportunities, damaged joints, excessive cholesterol, unhealthy blood sugar levels. YOU are a Survivor, too. Every time we fight the battle against food addiction and win we gain a survivor's badge. Wear it proudly and inspire others to acknowledge they are Survivors, too.
T is for TODAY - Today is all I have. There is no I'll start tomorrow" in keeping the pounds off. I increase my chances of sticking to my plan tomorrow if I start today. Any time you put today off till tomorrow you lose the only time that counts. It does not matter if I was healthy yesterday if I give it up today. Don't wait for the perfect moment, the right phase of the moon, the end of the holiday season, the first of the month, next Monday or midnight. Be present today. Make it count.
U is for - UMBRELLA - Would you use an umbrella to protect you from drizzles, rain, downpours when you are wearing fine clothing?? I consider the tools I use daily in the fight against food addiction to be my umbrella, protecting me from the slips, falls and binges. I need a big umbrella to cover me from the onslaught of sweet and savory foods and behaviors that will bring me back to a size 34 1/2.
V is for VICTORIES - They come in all sizes. Watch for them. Cherish them. Share them. Did you purposely park the car on the far side of the parking lot and walk? Victory! Did you take the stairs instead of the elevator without even thinking about it? Victory! Did you give up soda for a week? Victory! Did you say 'no' to a project that does not suit your life today? Victory! Are you keeping the pounds off for another day? Victory! Identify your victories and celebrate them with non-edible rewards.
W is for WILLINGNESS - Are you willing to do whatever it takes? I do not think there is any other way. I have to be willing to do whatever it takes today and everyday if I want to be one of the people who is keeping the pounds off this year, next year, next decade. . . . without gains and drops in between. Wishing will not make it so. The word is Willingness. I am willing to seek the answers outside myself. I am willing to learn and grow and say no to food that will eventually hurt me.
X is for XYLITOL EXPERIMENT - I tried it last year as a substitute sweetener but it only made me want more and more and more. Xylitol is expensive and does taste like sugar . It has calories similar to sugar. Molecularly it is only 1 molecule away from being table sugar. As a sugar replacement in baking and cooking in activates my addiction and I struggle to regulate my consumption. Lesson learned, I do not use Xylitol but I remember the Xylitol experiment to remind me that just because someone touts a product as good for me does NOT mean it is good for ME.
Y is for YEARNING- I accept that the yearning will occasionally pang at my heart and brain. I accept it the way I accept yearning to still be a trim 5'7" when what I am is simply a bumpy 5'4. I accept these yearning moments. Yearnings are natural feelings. But feelings are not facts. I can feel yearning without trying to make it become my reality. I do not wrap myself in yearning's blanket of deceit. That is where the danger lays in wait for me. Yearning seen as factual can be dangerous. I do not stretch myself on a rack in an attempt to grow another 3 inches. I do not eat three bites of a dessert today because I want to feel better about the food I miss. All those three bites are going to do for me is help me forget all the other ABC's of keeping the pounds off. "A" ain't Apple Pie Ala Mode. "B" better not be Banana creme pie and" C" cannot create cherry cheesecake.
Z is for ZEST - The most intense essence of aromas from lemon, orange and grapefruit come form the zest of their peels. You've got to have zest for living the life you have today. Each day we peel another day off the calendar of our finite lives. It is only in living in today that we can find the zest that makes living a each day a joy. When I accept that today is all I have and seek to live it fully I find happiness. A happiness I never have when I dwell in the past. or when I hold back from fully living today because I am awaiting a better future.
And there you have the ABCs of keeping the pounds off. ABCs: they're not just for soup anymore! In maintaining your weight loss or in reaching toward your pound-goal, what are your ABCs?