Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Mental Game

The other day, I was discussing my blog with a friend and she said, "you have talked a lot about the physical side of weight loss, but not really the mental side. You have talked about doing more physical things and losing pant sizes, etc., but you have not talked about how it makes you feel." I agreed that it would be a great topic, so here I go:

It is a tough set of emotions to describe; there are so many parts to my thought process about everything. First, as cliche as it sounds, it has been a real roller coaster of a ride with many huge ups and downs. The constant thought of "falling off the wagon" and going backwards, of failing or putting all the weight back on. My weight loss is not one easy task, the thought that once all I get this weight off (if I'll get it off), what then? The toughest part of the battle, I know, will be to keep it off. Many say that to maintain the weight loss is harder to than to lose the weight in the first place. I worry about that even though I am still far from there. These are some of the thoughts running through my head from the start of this journey and it is these thoughts that also keep some people from even starting on the journey - because they fear it.

I have gotten better about not beating myself up over the scale, because I know when I am on plan, I lose weight. The plan works - stick with the plan. When I have a bad meal where not everything is 100% up to my normal standards of plan, I have learned to become okay with that. For example: if I go to a restaurant and forget to say no to some ingredient (like cheese), I just pick as much off as I can and get through it (without flipping out). I have learned to take one meal at a time. You have to do that because a lot of people will just have one bad meal and throw the whole day away, which does not work at all for anyone that is serious about losing weight. It takes a long time for your body to recover from a bad food day versus one meal. The current plan I am testing myself on calls for a light carb-feeding day and that means a sweet potato, not a pizza or a whole free-for-all day. The reason for that is because it would take many days or a week to get your body back on track in the right mode for a variation that big. Also, there is a mental implication with that too, because then you start to crave and look for that "cheat day," and then it compiles and fails. I know I have tried those kind of plans and it did not work after about a month.

The holidays are extremely tough too; I have had a couple emails about this. I know that Thanksgiving has now passed, but there are still more holiday parties coming for a lot of us. One of my emailers asked about what to do for Thanksgiving: should I just take a cheat day and then go back to normal eating after? He is a fellow Cross-fitter and healthy eating beginner, having just started his journey. He also asked if he should bring a salad to eat while everyone else was eating the more traditional foods. I told him that he could of course bring a salad, but turkey is not that bad for you and sweet potatoes are even good for you (depends on what is in them), certainly a better option than regular potatoes. Fruit and veggies are usually available and great to load up on. If you need to have something sweet and you can't bring something that fits your plan, the best option would be some pumpkin pie without the crust or cream on top. That will save you a lot in the long run. It took me a day or two to get my body back in order without falling of the wagon for Thanksgiving, more because of how my current routine was thrown off versus what I ate. I was totally calm about the change to my routine, because I knew Monday was coming when I could be back on a regular schedule and kicking butt on the weight loss side of things, and I have been.

How far you want to take the healthiness path is up to you. Sometimes information overload can make you so frustrated that it drives you crazy. For those moments, I have my wife and two great friends: Jennie and Amy, who are all doing the same things (for the most part) as I am, eating healthier and lower processed foods, gluten free, lower carb, etc. Our plans are not all exactly the same, but these women are on their journeys too. It really helps to have someone to vent to when you are freaking out because of something you ate, and they totally understand where you're coming from. Finding people like that really helps your mental state. Going back to an earlier blog post, the support group helps a lot and I could not do this without them. All of us need to decide what level we want to take our journey to, and its hard with so many choices like eating carb- or gluten-free, all organic or not genetically modified foods. Sometimes the choices frustrate me when I am looking for products I can trust. An example of this was when I sought a particular butter brand that I thought was a certain quality and then found out it was not after I had just bought some. It just made me crazy and I know it was just a little thing, but long story short, my friends talked me down and I later found other options that were 100% perfect for what I wanted and I am good to go. That may sound a little odd to some people, but I know a lot of people that have had similar issues like this when trying to figure out what works for  their plan. If you have an example, please share it with me; I would love to hear your stories.

About the emails I have gotten from the readers, I think many of you are also facing a lot of these issues and I think this example could help others too. The reader was asking how to make a change when his wife and co-workers are not supportive of what he is doing, eating healthier and working out (Crossfit). For starters, I will be here for anyone that needs someone to talk to! I also told him to "keep on the plan, because the plan works." This is the motto my wife and I stick to; it helps and it works. Also, be the leader  - even though it is hard - you will prove the nay-sayers wrong. After awhile, some of them will follow your lead. Friends and family will see it working for you, and even if they have different goals you will motivate them. Seeing this, in turn becomes motivation for you, it has for me big time! If you are looking for a gym or crossfit box and the trainers do not fit what you think your vision of yourself can be, find a different place. Having the right motivation is important to your success and finding that right fit is extremely important, if getting in shape is a part of your goal. While learning more about Crossfit, I have come across stories of places where they were not as friendly or they wanted you to pay extreme prices to get you to a certain level. Crossfit and any gym should have the goal of getting everyone that walks into the the place in better shape for their life. My crossfit box could have ignored my needs that way when I walked in for the first time at over 400 pounds. For one thing, I was too embarrassed to tell them, but they truly are happy to help anyone that is ready for the change and that really was a huge mental boost. Crossfit and working out is for everyone; it is scaleable for everyone's own abilities. It is so important to clear your mind, which is why I am so behind doing something active. My wife notices that I start to go crazy now if I do not get to do some type of activity. One might say the plan is working on me. A wise person once told me, "food is like a religion to some people, you can't push your thoughts about eating on other people..." (it was my wife), but it is true. I am here to help if you want it.
Halloween Party 2013

The other day I was shopping and looking at products that had weight limits and I thought, "oh, I can't use that; I am over the weight limit," and I had to do a double take, because I was under the weight limit and there was a click in my head - it was the weirdest feeling of excitement. I felt so proud of myself and I cannot wait to lose more weight to get under more limits on things. I have also now lost enough weight to have my doctor sign off on my hernia surgery, which happens later this month. I went in to see him in May and it was a huge mental blow when he told me that losing 40 pounds was not enough. Now after losing over 100 pounds, it was enough! I know the reason he wanted me to lose more is to have better success with the repair and less chances of having it happen again, but his approval was still a huge mental gain in the process. The reason I got this type of hernia in the first place was because I was out of shape and did not have enough core strength for my last job where I did a lot of heavy lifting. In my next post, I will give updates on the surgery with more pictures.

Remember, all this started when I joined a friend in doing an Advocare Challenge. If you want more information on starting the Advocare 24 Day Challenge or a 10-day cleanse package for the New Year, visit my web page for more information: https://www.advocare.com/130446300/  There are packages already set up. New Years Day is coming up and it would be great to start your new year off with a clean slate. You have the support to help you start your journey - take it as far as you want! Also I have had some huge support from Minnesota Top Team, which is where I do Crossfit.  Visit their website too if you want to learn more about them. They do so much more than Crossfit - check them out! (still not a paid sponsor) If you do not live in Minnesota, Twin Cites area, you're missing out. I love those owners and trainers!

I am currently eating a low-carb diet with right-size portion meats and high quality fats. This type of plan set-up allows me to do my own tinkering to find out what works for me. I will explain more when I am done with the phase I am on now. For a sneak preview, you can find out more about it by checking out Jimmy Moore and his websites and podcasts at http://livinlavidalowcarb.com/blog/  
Jimmy has taken my emails and Facebook questions too; he is an awesome man!
Lastly, I've also followed Abel James' blogs, podcasts and videos on YouTube. This is my favorite; it is one of the best informational videos on healthy eating perspectives I have ever seen. In a future post, I will list other recommended sources, though these two guys are my favorite; check them out.

Also, thanks for reading my ramblings; please email me at DJUELL30@GMAIL.COM! My blog is also posted on MINNESOTA TOP TEAM CROSSFITS WEBSITE.   Tweet me @DUSTJUELL on Twitter. Here is a picture from our Thanksgiving workout; I am hanging on to the rope, wearing blue. This is just one small part of the crew!