I remember distinctly the moment I learned to suck in my stomach. I was in 7th grade and heading back into the locker room from a football workout. I had taken off my pads and was in the customary half-shirt. And as I saw a cheerleader coming my direction down the hallway, I remember sucking in my gut, thinking, “There’s Betty.” She noticed me. She missed the sucking in part. A week later we were “going steady” whatever that means in 7th grade. I’m sure we kissed a bit.
As an adult male I still have this reaction when I see an attractive woman. I’m trying to notice when I do it, and see who or what triggered the response. One big awareness I came to, after watching my own reflection in a store window at the mall:
You can’t suck in your love handles.
Crap. That’s where my shape gets it’s shape. From the front you don’t really notice my stomach, though it could be a lot slimmer, you notice my handles. I’m sure this is a similar conundrum that has plagued ladies for a long time.
So, part of this quest is about understanding my own body, my impressions of self, and how I talk to myself about body image and fitness. And while weight loss seems to be a natural goal of this program/site whatever I am doing here, my real focus is fitness and wellness. Oh, and love handle reduction.
I was talking to my brother yesterday about health and fitness. (He had a heart attack two years ago, and I was curious about his wellness and fitness activities.) He wanted to know how my weight loss was coming. I had to think about it.
“I don’t even know, right now. That’s not exactly my focus.”
“Oh,” he said. “It this restaurant okay for your diet?”
“Yes,” I said. “I can make better choices where ever I go. That’s really what I’m writing about. How to step towards my goals, rather than away from them. And understanding what’s going on in my thinking when I’m craving something sweet or salty, and trying to keep going for the healthy meal.”
And I’m still thinking about this question 10 hours later. “What is my diet? Am I on a diet?”
Here’s what I think I’m “on.”
- Learning about my own psychology of cravings, snacking impulses, and when/why I make poor choices.
- Uncovering resistances to exercise and removing them.
- Exercising more frequently and upping the intensity as my body is ready for it.
- Choosing the apple over the Triscuit every time.
- Watching portions and overall intake at all times. I would eat until I was full. Now I try to leave a little room. “Room to not grow on.”
- Eliminate unconscious sugar. When I eat a sweet or dessert I want to enjoy it. But sugar in my tortilla chip, no way.
- Awareness of my energy and daily cadence. Often I will break with the program when I’m extremely tired or overly hungry.
- Listening to my negative self talk and gently modifying the phrases to be loving and supportive, rather than hurtful or shameful.
- Accepting exactly where I am, every day, and starting from there. No matter what I ate yesterday, or how many times I worked out, I can begin again each day with a YES attitude.
- Focus on the health and wellness benefits of my program rather than focusing on weight loss.
- Loving my love handles into smaller and smaller versions of themselves.
- Getting to a point in my fitness where I don’t have to suck in my stomach, ever.
- Taking the next step towards fitness and wellness, always.
I’m not on a quick weight loss plan. I know there are plenty more things I could do right this second to radically improve my weight loss program, but I’m trying to build a lifestyle and enjoy the journey. I could meet with a fitness coach, I could start with a trainer or life coach, I could get more serious about what I’m doing, but I’m not that serious about it. Well, I am, but my “way” is going to be more organic, more about me and my thinking. And of course, my eating and exercise are a huge part of that. Along the way I may ask questions of my friends who are trainers, fitness buffs, coaches, nutritionists, but I think I’m happy with my progress so far, regardless of my love handle measurement.
I am learning about myself and why I eat certain foods and how those foods affect my body and make me feel. I am learning how to control my sugar intake and overall calorie intake: never over eat, always feel my way through a meal, and when I’m satisfied stop eating. I do not ever need to be a member of “the clean plate club” of my childhood. And dessert, while a staple in my family of origin, is more of a rare treat in my life. And every day I can make better choices.
I’m walking away from the old unconscious eater, and becoming a stronger, healthier, and eventually thinner person. My plan is working perfectly. And the measurement today, is inside.
I didn’t get my love handles overnight, and I won’t reduce them in an overnight fast either.
Take the next step,
And sugar intake has become a big problem for all of us.
References and Inspirations:
- 12 Graphs That Show Why People Get Fat – Authority Nutrition
- Why Do We Overeat? A Neurobiological Perspective – Stephan Guyenet Ph. D.