Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Positive Affirmations

I like realizations in life because sometimes they’re affirmations.

Affirmations are good for us because they make us feel like whatever it is we’re doing, no matter how small, is the right thing. For me, I had one of those small ones today. It came when my coworker were running an errand for the office and we got stuck behind a giant truck. This was a McDonald’s truck. This would not be a bad thing except the enormous photograph of McDonalds French fries that dominated the entire rear of the truck.

Let me explain.

Since the new year, I made a vow to myself that I’d drop the extra 15 pounds that I’d allowed myself to gain during the past few months.

So far, I’m down by seven pounds and I really didn’t have to do much at all. As I’ve said before, I’ve been blessed to be a huge fan of vegetables. I’ve always centred the majority of my meals around vegetables when I cook. I find veggies to be a gift in life- there are so many types out there and so many things to do with each type that were it not for my fondness for meat, I could easily be a vegetarian. Unfortunately, while I do prefer veggies, I have a certain fondness for bacon, chicken and other carnivourous fodder. I also adore fish which I would still be able to eat if I were a vegetarian. Of course, I’ve never understood that because I’d think fish were as much a live creature as, say, a chicken but who am I to argue?

Anyway, the point is that it’s been easy for me to switch to a healthier eating plan. All I had to do is adjust how much I ate and when I ate it and I’ve been able to lose weight without much deprivation at all. I still get to eat things like cheese and bacon, I just do so in moderation. Instead of pouring cheese onto everything, I consider what else I’m eating with the cheese to decide if it’s worth the nutritional black marks or not for that day’s eating. I have a fabulous website that I use that lets me log what I’m eating and then it estimates the nutritional content of that food. It makes me responsible for what I eat and how much I eat. I love that. I know how many calories I’m supposed to have in a day and so I can see how I’m doing.

I like having that discipline. I find that it makes food rewards fun. If I’m doing well for the day and I’ve eaten primarily healthy, low fat stuff then I can have a glass of wine in the evening or a piece of chocolate or even some cheese with my dinner. It’s actually a much nicer way of eating than letting myself cram my face full of whatever I feel like eating at that moment.

There are times that it is hard. I find that if I have a day that doesn’t go well, I’m hungry. I want to fill that emotional hole in me with food even though I’m technically not hungry. I think half the battle is recognizing if I am actually hungry or if I’m just thinking about eating because I’m watching TV and it seems like the thing to do. Of course, there are days that I am really hungry. These are generally the days when I’ve been super healthy. Fortunately, if I’ve eaten a low amount of fat and calories for the day, it usually means I can have a healthy-ish snack and not suffer the consequences on my thighs or hips.
The only really hard time is when I’m subjected to temptation. At my job, we have a lot of business lunches with our consultants. This is our way of saying “Thank you for working for us” as well as to stay in touch with them. These lunches are nice but they’re always at a restaurant where healthy eating is not always easy. Compounded with this is the fact that I’m faced with a menu full of pictures of items that are not healthy but are, in fact, absolutely delicious. It’s so easy to listen to that voice in my head that says, “You’re craving bacon, cheese, hamburger goodness with a side of salty French-fries”.
The voice in my head is usually right. If I’m given a picture of a juicy hamburger when I haven’t had one in ages and I really, really want one, of course I’m going to crave the bloody thing. It’s a law of nature: we crave what we shouldn’t have.
Since I started my attempt to lose weight, it’s become very easy to talk myself out the hamburger. At first, it wasn’t. It’s much easier to cheat when you first start something- (“Oh, go on…order it! You can start over again tomorrow.” ). The longer you persevere, the easier it gets because you’ve come a certain distance and you don’t want to undo the good you’ve been doing.

There are times when I do go ahead and order the hamburger. It’s part of that reward system. If I let myself have it once in a while, I’m far less apt to say, “screw it! I want bad food now!”

There comes a place when you realize you’ve turned that corner and trying to eat well 95% of the time is as natural as eating itself.

Thus comes my affirmation.

McDonalds french fries have always been a weakness of mine. Generally when I crave something, it’s savoury, rather than sweet. I want something salty. McDonalds french fries? Perfect salty snack food. Two months ago, I would have seen that picture of the french fries on the back of the truck and instantly, my taste buds would have been kicking into sense-memory mode. I would have been able to taste them and smell them in my imagination. I would instantly have wanted those french fries and found a way to get them.

Two months later…not so much. I could still smell them and taste them in my imagination but internally, I simply shrugged and said, “eh, I’d rather have the brussel sprouts roasted with bacon that I’m planning for dinner tonight.”

I liked that feeling. Granted, there’s bacon involved in my dinner but it’s only three slices and combined with the Brussels and the fennel I plan on also roasting, I have a pretty darned tasty meal there with very little badness except for the bacon.

The more important thing is that I’d rather have that than Mcdonalds. That was my affirmation that all the work I’ve done in trying to lose some extra weight and improve my overall health is sticking. Also, I’m enjoying it. It involve creativity, planning and research but those are three things I enjoy very much anyway.

I have to say, I would never have thought a giant picture of french fries would seem like a life affirming thing but that’s probably why it was such a nice moment.

The unexpected things always are.

Thanks, as always for reading and have a Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

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