Updated: Jul 28, 2020
I sincerely believe mindfulness can help change the world. Sounds cheesy right? I agree. I just don't know any other way to say it, yet.
Mindfulness is so much more than meditation. I taught a group of educators this summer, and I posed the question, "What thoughts do you have about our definition of mindfulness?" One teacher's reply, "It's a way of connecting to your life."
I could not agree more. It sure has been for me.
A few posts back I shared about my new and soon to be last weight loss journey. When my school sent us home back in March, I spent the first five weeks treating my body like a playground. When the switch flipped, things changed. As of this post I'm down 30 pounds. Here comes my big ask.....wait for it.........
PLEASE DO NOT SEND ME COMMENTS, POSTS, OR TEXTS OF CONGRATULATIONS.
This post is not a self serving, indulgent way to bring attention to me. Rather, what I've noticed the past fourteen weeks is something I want to share to help others.
I've always been a "bigger" guy. I'm six feet two inches tall. I grew up on the soccer field and basketball court. I've been a Crossfit coach. I'm a certified holistic health coach. I actually enjoy working out and pushing myself. But I love to eat. I come from a long line of eaters who would gather around the table and debate whether gefilte fish is really a fish. True story. Promise. What I know about myself as an eater is the following:
I prefer savory over sweet. I'll eat a handful of trail mix, but I'll come back to it several times. Before I know it, I've eaten the whole bag.
I do like sweets, but I don't crave them. Except after dinner. I think about milkshakes, cement mixers and blizzards a lot after dinner.
Portion control has always been an issue. Eating the right proportions of foods was never something I learned until way later in life.
I love pizza. It's like a drug for me. I will eat it like Joey Chestnut eats hot dogs.
I often eat out of boredom.
You might be wondering, "How does someone who loves to work out and is trained as a health coach struggle with weight?" Ha! Great question!
The answer is simple. Like all humans, I found myself out of touch with my emotions. The Pixar movie, "Inside Out" is a brilliant display of 5 human core emotions. And like most folks, I allowed life to control them. Sounds normal, right? Maybe. But it isn't pleasant. And I don't want to go back there again. Ever.
As I continued to meditate, practice yoga and listen to my teachers, I realized that the idea of "paying attention and noticing without judgement" is the key. Instead of focusing on what wasn't going right, I needed to notice what I was feeling. Then, the work comes. If I can notice the feeling, then I can categorize it in one of three places: pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. I would, and still do, talk to myself when doing this. I'll treat the emotion like a person and say, "That's just fear visiting" or "Here comes sadness, or anger, or whatever." For me, treating the emotion like an entity allows me to experience the emotion, but it prevents me from attaching to it...from going down the rabbit hole of self deprecating and destructive thoughts which only leads to more negative feelings. Which is how a Holistic Health and Crossfit Coach found himself gaining weight.
So here I am. Eighteen years after losing 80 pounds, I'm back to that same journey. But I am a different person this time, and not because I was heavier than ever before. I have less of an expectation. I have places where I'd like to arrive:
I'd like my clothes to fit better.
I'd like to have better sleep.
I'd like to not feel my stomach move when I driver over a bump in the road.
I want to be able to run again without my knees hurting.
I want my gut to feel better.
So....I'm sure you may be wondering, "Does he have a number in mind?"
I do. Kind of. I started this journey at a whopping.....wait for it......drum roll......
I've chosen to see where I am after I shed 50 pounds. Why that number? In full disclosure, I'm really not sure. Maybe because it's half of one-hundred, but I know that I am focused on body fat loss. I have a scale that gives me that information, and I know that a key to health, heart-health specifically is less body fat. So....I think I'll assess as I go and not be so focused on what my number is. Rather, I am choosing to pay attention to the following:
How do I feel?
Can I check off the things listed above?
And...where are my emotions?
There is one other thing. I want to do a triathlon again. My 17 year old son and I have been working out since March in the driveway together. We have discussed an "at home" sprint triathlon, so I'd like to be in good enough shape to do that with him. I've done one official sprint triathlon a few years back. Then came a knee injury; then weight gain, and here we are. So there's that to stay tuned for as well.
So as of today, I've lost 30.1 pounds in three and a half months. Weight Watchers helps me keep my portions in order and naturally has me making sure there are good mixes of foods. I like Weight Watchers because it helps me not overeat. I don't see it as a diet, rather as a tool to manage. I also have done the following:
I use self talk: I ask myself (often out loud so I can hear it), "Are you hungry or are you bored?
I use my body scan practice to connect with my gut and notice what I feel? Is it full, empty, light, somewhere in the middle? This helps me when I am bored and find myself in the pantry.
I try to stay out of the kitchen after dinner. This is difficult as it's the epicenter of our home.
I attempt to give gratitude to the food on my plate. Something that was reinforced in my 200 hour yoga teacher training. Thinking about all that it took for the food on my plate to arrive there. From the farmer, to the person who helped package, deliver, and on and on.
I try to enjoy the colors, the smells, the textures, and all the flavors of my food. This is a difficult one. As I've mentioned, I come from a long line of fast eaters, and this mindful eating requires really slowing down. But when I employ this, it helps.
There's a lot of information to be read about mindful eating. There are many popular exercises to become acquainted with the practice of mindful eating.
If you like raisins, check this one out.
Here's another nice video explaining the idea of mindful eating.
And lastly, if you remember the book The Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollen is the author. I love what he has to say just about all of the time. This video is no different.
It's my intent to keep you posted on my journey. One day at a time. Here. Now.
Happy and Healthy Eating to You,