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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Crime and Punishment

     I've never been a person who enjoys exercise.  I still don't.  At best I look at exercising as a chore. I'm coming to terms with the fact that exercise is necessary not only for weigh loss, but for overall health--and I'm getting my ass off the couch and making healthy lifestyle changes.  However, I'll be honest with you--I'm still not a fan.  What I am a fan of is food.  I've never been a picky eater.  I like to try new things, and at the same time find comfort in my old favorites.  I'm having to learn portion control.  I'm having to learn how to say no to instant gratification.  And you know what--- it's hard to do.  I'm a true believer that much of the battle for weight loss fought in our mind. Shedding pounds isn't just about changing your eating habits or your exercise routine.  It is about changing your mindset.   That my friends,  just might be the most difficult aspect of it all.  
     One thing I'm struggling with right now is changing my mind set regarding the balance between food and exercise.  I know that the secret to losing weight is burning more calories than you consume.  Simple math folks.  Calories in vs. calories out.  What I'm struggling with is a punitive mentality.  I have to stop the thought process that tells me that when I eat something "bad" I deserve to be "punished"--if I do the crime (eat something high in calories) I have to do the time (exercise).  I've got to realize that eating a enchilada is not a capital offense.  If I over indulge in tortilla chips on occasion, I don't have to sentence myself to two hours of hard labor on the treadmill.  (Can ya'll tell what I had for dinner last night?)  
     This kind of thinking is not healthy.  Quite honestly, it is the kind of thinking that fuels anorexia and bulimia--and that is scary.  Although I honestly don't think I'm in danger of succumbing to an eating disorder,  I do realize that  I'm never going to learn to enjoy exercise if I just look at it as doing penance.  If I berate myself every time I make a trip to the Mexican restaurant I won't enjoy what I'm eating, and I'll resent my next workout.  This is the opposite of productive.  I shouldn't be living my life like a character in some bleak Dostoyevsky novel.  Eating and exercise are not synonymous with crime and punishment.
     I think a more productive way to look at balancing calories in vs. calories out is to think about it in terms of debits and credits.  Here's an analogy.  If I charge X amount on my credit card, I'm eventually going to have to pay that same amount off.  It is the same with eating.  If I eat X amount of calories, I'm going to have to burn that amount or more off by exercising.  If you over spend, or overeat, there are consequences.  That's why it is important to budget.  Budgeting, whether with our money or with food, helps us make wise choices and avoid impulsive decisions.  
      Another part of losing the crime and punishment mentality is looking at all of the benefits I get from exercise.  This might not help me enjoy it any more, but it does build my incentive.  I can feel my stamina increasing. I know my heart and lungs are getting stronger.  Walking a mile used to seem unattainable. Now, I can routinely run/walk three or more.  Daily activities that once caused me to become winded such as climbing stairs or walking through the mall  are no longer physically taxing.  Another thing that build incentive is the fact that I can feel my muscles getting tighter and more toned.  While I'm still not totally satisfied with my refection, my changing physique makes me like the person in the mirror a hell of a lot more.  Also, I now understand what people are talking about when they say they feel good after they exercise.  I may not feel fantastic while I'm sweating it out, but I sure do feel better afterward.  I feel more alive while I'm awake, and I sleep so much better at night. These are all things to celebrate!  
     I won't tell you that changing my mindset is easy.  It is challenging to overcome years of negative thinking.  These old habits die hard.  But, I will tell you, just like losing the weight, changing my thinking is doable.  100 pounds ago, I never thought I'd be where I am today.  I've just got to keep believing and sending positive messages to myself all the while pushing the negativity back where it belongs.  

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