Greetings from Savannah. I’m here on location shooting a television series. I’m proud to say that many of the days on location started with me going for a 2-3 mile “wog.” Wogging is my chosen form of exercise. I walk, then jog, then walk, and so on. I’ve never liked going to a gym, and with an ever changing schedule, wogging is something I can do virtually anywhere and schedule as I need to. The key word there is schedule. With the amount of weight I needed to lose, and the challenges of having a slow metabolism due to Hashimoto’s (autoimmune hypothyroidism), I know I’m in it for the long haul. Some days are harder than others to stay within the lines and keep myself motivated. But as I get closer to my goal, I find that some days I lose steam or get frustrated that it’s not coming off quicker. So how do you stick with it through thick and thin to finally arrive at THIN?
One way is to take the word diet out of my vocabulary. For me and many others, this way of eating and living has become a spiritual practice. There is power in ritual, in forming habits that become more automatic. Thinking differently about weight loss has helped me to focus on the end game in a different way. And one way that has helped is to think about this as a practice rather than a chore. Some people meditate on a regular basis, making time to separate from everything and go inward. Some use exercise as a form of spiritual practice, like yoga or running or walking. For me a spiritual practice has less to do with traditional prayer or a particular belief system, and more to do with practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is about living in the present moment.
Rather than thinking about how much I’ll weigh next week, or the anxiety of what’s going to happen or feeling upset about what already happened, I am working to stay present. Mindfulness is really about retraining the mind to stay in the here and now, rather than become distracted by what we’ve done in the past or what we will do tomorrow. When I bring my mind to the present, I feel a release. The present is the most important, it’s happening now, and what I do in that moment is all I need to concern myself with.
The ritual of weighing and measuring is really about mindfulness around eating. Food is meant to sustain us, food is meant to be a pleasure, to be enjoyed, to be savored. Sometimes it’s easy to go into feeling deprived or feeling frustrated about what we can’t have. Staying present helps alleviate some of that because we are choosing behavior that we know will help us reach our goal. Sure, there are temptations, and if you’re just starting the plan, the cravings may still be there as well.
While in Savannah, I thought a lot about the rituals, about how I make sure I give myself time in the morning to prepare for the day. Part of that preparation is planning what I will eat. I give myself a couple of hours before I have to get into my work day. If I’m wogging that day, I get up, drink a full glass of water and head out for a walk. I come back, shower and get ready, then I have breakfast. Usually it’s steel cut oats, hemp hearts and a banana with coffee. I’ve made the oats ahead of time so I have enough for the week. Occasionally I may also make scrambled eggs in advance and skip the oats. If I can have lunch in my hotel suite (I stay in one with a small kitchen), I will make a salad ahead and put it in the fridge.
If I’m going to eat out, I’ll think about where I want to go and plan what I’ll have. I know that it will be salad, and that it will have either legumes or chicken or cheese for protein, or a mix of all three. Same deal for dinner. I think ahead to where I’ll be and what I will plan to have. By the time I’m ready to head to work, I’ve already got the food planned and I can go about my day. Some days things might change, like shooting goes longer, or lunch or dinner options might change. In those cases, I simply do the best I can to stick within the lines and make sure I get what I need.
And sure, there are some days when I may be tired and not feel like planning, but I bring my mind back to what’s important to me. Is it perfect every day? No. Do I sometimes wish this was already handled and I don’t have to think about it? Yes. But the more I focus on the positive, the less I feel put upon. And sometimes, the week goes by and I’ll stay the same on the scale. Do I wish it would go faster? Yes. But when I see the result, and I quiet my mind with the reminder of how far I’ve come, I’m less inclined to go way off the rails.
Some days are still harder than others. It’s easy for me to fall into upset about the weight not coming off as quickly as it did in the beginning, or the fear that I’ll never reach my goal. Or when things don’t go according to plan and I get tripped up with something unexpected happening. It happens. But coming back to center is easier than it has ever been. I’m here to say, it gets so much easier. So take heart, and if you’re having a tough day, stop for a minute. Think about how far you’ve come. Acknowledge you’re having a tough moment. Reach out for support. Embrace all the good you’re getting out of changing your habits and changing your life. Nothing worth having is ever easy. For me, I know I will have to be mindful around food for the rest of my life. And it takes practice. One mindful moment at a time.