Sugar Devil

(null)I can’t even begin to express what a hypocrite and failure I feel like these days. I have words and deeds flourishing in my head like bacteria that do not feel good. I’ve been failing in the ‘healthy eating’ portion of my life. I’m writing a flipping book about how I lost 150 pounds and how I’m dedicated to this new lifestyle but I just feel like I’m out of control. It just felt like I could not stop eating! I was watching Extreme Makeover: Weightloss Edition and a woman named Marissa (of the Shane and Marissa episode) was talking about how she was on target, hitting her calorie goals, feeling strong in workouts and then one night she came home from the gym, found cookie dough in her fridge and started eating it. And eating it and eating it and eating it until the tube was gone. She said that even as she was spooning the dough into her mouth that she was disappointed with herself, she was telling herself to stop, she knew all of the right things to do, she knew the consequences, but she still kept the cookie dough coming. There have been so many times over the past two weeks that I’ve felt exactly like that. I just can’t seem to stop myself, even when I tell myself that I could spit this bite out right now, start fresh and not have to deal with the calories- I continue even when I tell myself I don’t want to have to lose this weight I’m consuming, even when I remind myself I’m going to be disappointed in my choices. Nothing had been stopping me.
Except reflection and writing, actually.
That book that I talked about? The one I’m writing? It’s coming at a necessary time. It seems I have a lot to learn from myself! I’ve been going crazy trying to figure out what my problem is, and I’ve got it- once again I’m pretty sure the culprit is the sugar devil and, once again, I’m addicted to the beastly stuff. I need to move beyond it, again. As I’ve been writing and reflecting on my beginnings as a weightloss warrior, the one red light that keeps coming up is how successful I was once I removed refined sugars from my diet. I lose weight, I feel better and have greater control of my diet when I don’t allow high fructose corn syrup, candy of any kinds of other ‘sweets’ into my diet. I can control my fat-o-meter in context of everything else, it’s the sugar that takes me out of the game. Every time I encounter it I get addicted so fast and spend about two to four weeks in recovery from the resulting downward spiral. My self esteem takes a hit, my weight takes a hit and my body goes wacky. It’s not fun.
So, imagine my pleasure, on Monday, when I was getting cleaned up from dinner and I thought to myself that I was strong enough tonight to tell myself no. That after a certain point in the evening I was going to be done eating. I had dinner, a reasonably sized peanut butter chocolate ice cream cone, and then I was done. The kitchen continued to call to me. Scream at me, more like, but I didn’t answer. It felt really good to remember what it’s like to be strong. Then the same thing happened again last night. While June was a really tough month, it feels like it’s behind me now and I’m finally back in control. That’s not to say I’ve been on the scale- oh no! I have no idea what the damage is, but I feel better, again. I feel like I have the power and determination to get back on track for the summer.
Yesterday I did the elliptical for 40 minutes, today we ran 3.8 miles. Exercise-wise, things are going well. My knees are bothering me a bit and my boob-related injury is still bothering me, but it seems to be getting better. It’s not terribly fun to wear a constricting piece of clothing at all times, but the alternative of being in pain is much less desirable! Let’s just say I’m glad that the weather cooled a little bit and I’ve got the sugar in better control! šŸ™‚
***
The following is the next part of my book. Warning- it’s starting to get disorganized as I try to figure out how to explain everything that happened in about a month’s time, simultaneously, and it feels messy. It feels like I’m getting ahead of myself… But nonetheless, here it is…

It was really scary letting people know what I was up to. All that opportunity to fail publicly was definitely out there. I know I have watched people lose a bunch of weight, reach their goal and immediately turn around and gain it all back. I’ve commented, admires and talked to them on the way down about how well they are doing, but on the way back up it’s similar to a walk of shame. I know- I’ve done it. People just turn their eyes to the side and all of the words of encouragement dry up, because what do you say to someone who is gaining their weight, that they worked so hard to lose, back? Nothing. Because I put it out there, I was inviting that exact scrutiny for the purpose of helping me stay accountable.
Instead of worry, all of the sudden I felt incredibly proud of what I was doing. I illustrated that letter with before and ‘right now’ pictures to make sure people could see the changes I was making to my body. It was the first time I made the side-by-side compare/contrast pictures and was amazed at how much progress I had made. Suddenly I felt inspired by myself; I could see the changes in my body and was excited to move forward.
I realized how freeing it was to share my accomplishments, plans and fears with my friends and family. Most of the people I sent my email to wrote back to me with words of encouragement. Having their support meant the world to me, but I felt uncomfortable sharing too much with too many people. I wanted to share what I was doing with my Facebook community, but I am a bit gun-shy about being one of ‘those’ people. You know the ones. They share what they eat every day. Or they share a bible verse. Or they share a selfie every day. Or their workout every day. I’ve seen so many criticisms about what people post that I didn’t want to be hidden or unfriended or annoying to my people, but I still wanted to crow when I did something I was particularly proud of, so I created a secret Facebook page called ‘Junk in the Trunk Removal Services’ that was by invitation only. The primary purpose of it was for me to write about how I was doing, what I was proud of and where my struggles were. I would post when I had a solid work out day and when I would have a particularly good eating day. I would post about my goals- big and small- that I had for myself. I hoped that with my frequent posting that my voice would not be the only one, but I found that it was hard for my friends to share out alongside me. They weren’t in the same place as me; they weren’t mentally ready to get rid of the junk in their trunks. Or they had other big projects in front of them, or were shy, or were feuding with someone else in the group and didn’t feel comfortable sharing aloud with them being able to see. Over time, as my voice continued to be one of the only ones, I became discouraged with the group. It wasn’t giving the support I needed to me and I wasn’t able to be the leader I wanted to be. I realized that target audiences weren’t the way to go. I was going to have to let them come to me instead. I was going to have to be resilient and courageous. I was going to have to let anyone who wanted to look at me a window in. I was going to have to start a website.
I went to Bradley and asked him to start me one up. While my husband is endlessly supportive, I am like any other woman when it comes to losing weight. I would start out full of vigor confidence and chutzpah only to have it all disintegrate within two weeks. Websites take time to build and maintain. They cost money if you want complete control of it. They invite scrutiny. He was worried that we would invest all this time and energy into this external project of a website and I would become distracted and lose interest. I’ll admit that I also had concerns, but I felt like this was the next step toward accountability- the opportunity to fail very publicly or succeed very publicly and proudly. I was confident that this was my future, so I badgered him until he made an addendum to our family website, and tamarashazam.com was born.
I honestly don’t think I would have been as successful without my website. There have been a few times, during this project, when it has been my readership that has pulled me through. I’m certain I would have ditched some goals long ago were it not for people tuning in to see how I’m doing. Sometimes I work out, simply to have something to post. Sometimes I eat a certain, healthy meal, just so I have something to post. My website encourages me to be the best I can be. It also makes me own things honestly that I may not want to admit to myself, but in the name of truth and transparency, I share the hard things, too. I know there are people who read my site who are going through similar things and it’s nice to know when there’s someone out there going through it too. My admin page shows the statistics of how many people visit my site, what posts they like best, which country and cities my reader live in, which websites they link from and how they search for me and I’m telling you what, those numbers really can motivate me.
Over the years, Tamara Shazam has become more of a brand, than anything, and is one of my favorite things that I have ever made. I’m proud of my website and I’m proud of the content I provided to build it. I’m proud that I have lots of people visiting every day. While my purpose has never been to be an inspiration, it does make me feel proud when someone tells me that knowing I am losing weight and becoming fit successfully means that health and wellness are also a possibility for them.
***
I remember that first weekend after I had committed to really doing it, losing the weight and getting healthy, aided with reading the Runs for Cookies website. I decided that I would start out with accountability and transparency. I journaled everything I ate, using an app on my phone called ‘MyPlate’, and journaled all of my exercise as well. I decided that as long as my exercise output and caloric intake resulted in me staying within my caloric allowances of around 1700, I was golden. You see, when you use an app and enter in your data, the exercise subtracts the calories you burned from the calories you ate. Meaning, if you had consumed 800 calories so far that day and took a walk that used 150 calories, your new calorie balance would be 650. So, that first weekend I decided that if I couldn’t control my eating, that was just fine. I just had to find a way to burn it off. I took so many walks that weekend and rode on my stationary cycle so often! I realized , that weekend, how much energy it really does take to burn calories. I learned that consuming ice cream or a cookie came at a pretty steep price of more time, hitting the streets to burn it off. Wouldn’t it be easier to reign in my eating and exercise to run at a deficiency instead of constantly burning off the extra in my tank? So that’s what I started that week when I returned to work.
I must say, trying to lose weight is much easier when I’m at work. I don’t eat anything unhealthy in front of my students. As a second grade teacher, I understand that I’m not just some lady they see on the street, I’m a role model. When I eat in front of them I am teaching them. Some kids will see me and want to be like me. At the very least, we grow fond of one another and can work together for a year. At the most, I have students who still mail me letters, years later, to keep in touch. Some of them want to be like me, and I can’t feel responsible while also assisting them down a road of poor health habits- unhealthy foods and little movement. So at school, I eat fruit, whole grain snacks, vegetables and, yes, coffee. On top of that, I don’t keep junk in my classroom and avoid the staff room like the plague. There are always treats and extra food in there that I simply refuse to eat. At my old school, we brought treats into the staff room every Wednesday, earning the name ‘Fat Wednesday’. It was a joke, but I sincerely think that being a part of that culture definitely helped make me a bigger person. When my life is devoid of all the refined flours, sugars and high fructose corn syrup that are often in ‘treats’ I feel so much better! Every day I bring my lunch from home. I look at it carefully and decide what I will eat at different times of the day, so when I get hungry I have a plan of action. It started way back then and is still my habit. That’s not to say I don’t ever eat a cupcake or partake in a little chip-n-dip, but I’d say in all of last year, I probably ate something from the staff room fewer times than I can count on one hand.
The pattern that evolved from my work schedule and weekend schedule, however, started looking like a decent loss and solid habits forming during the week, but on the weekend I would gain whatever I had lost back. Not having a schedule that was exactly the same every day was turning out to be something that was more of a challenge than I expected. I realized that I needed to behave in a way that would support my weightloss every day, not just on the days when I was controlled by a schedule!

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