Just a reminder - This is a rough (very rough), quickly written, draft for a month long writing marathon called National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo.
Rewards and Motivation
At the beginning of this year I attempted to change habits and lose weight. I had a plan and made a chart of rewards, something for every ten pounds I lost. The rewards were things I needed and wanted so I thought that would motivate me to actually change my eating patterns and exercise habits and lose weight. Wrong. One thing I have learned is that the more attention I pay to results, the more perverted and oppositional my mind becomes and I do everything opposite of what I should do to achieve my goals. It is that old reverse psychology at work, or something like that, I guess.
This time around I have chosen a simple reward for every ten pounds lost and it will be the same for every ten pounds. It is not something I need and will buy anyway, it is something I’ve never had before but would like to indulge in as a luxury. That thing is a massage. My old tired bones and muscles would enjoy a massage, I think. I dated a man, once, who had massage therapy training. He told me that he would like to give me a massage and he felt that the best one would be a very delicate, light touch one, beginning at my feet. I told him that would simply tickle me and I would probably kick him in the teeth, not on purpose, of course, but out of reflex. He seemed really surprised that he hadn’t read me correctly. It must have been a flaw in his training. Anyway, like I said, I went out with him only once.
So, a nice massage for me, there are several places in town, every ten pounds. Ten is such a nice round number and it is more that a fluid loss; seriously, I can lose five pounds just by not drinking anything for a couple of days. Not that I like to do that as all sorts of other problems appear as a result of lack of hydration, but that is a way to lose, on the scale at least, a quick five pounds. No, ten pounds takes more effort through a combination of eating correctly and exercising vigorously and consistently.
My husband has promised me a BIG reward at the end, or rather when I reach my last goal. I have long wanted a dress form to assist me in sewing clothing that fits me perfectly, as well as refashioning the deals I find at thrift stores. Have you ever tried to alter something by fitting it to your body? Does. Not. Work. Hence the desire for a dress form, or a body double, or a my twin. But I don’t want one the size of a whale, which is what I am now. “Ooh, they’ve outlawed whaling, dearie.”
Just for fun let’s look at what I had slated for rewards earlier. Okay.
Number One: 10 pair of new underwear (I got that because my old ones were shredding.)
Number Two: new sheets for my bed (I got these also, but gave them, with the bed, to our daughter when she got home from the Air Force.)
Number Three: Two fruit trees (did not get these)
Number Four: Three pairs of new shoes (I got these when I found a killer deal on the summer shoes I love, and desperately needed; it was either that or go barefoot, or wear the old shoes that hurt my feet.)
Number Five: Attend a cultural event such as symphony concert, live theater, or ballet (Haven’t done this one either.)
Number Six: A dress form (Nope, did not get this one yet.)
So some things I got and some things I didn’t. The worst of it is that I did not reach any of my goals.
What happened? I could blame it on all sorts of things like the saboteurs who live with me; the weather, dark and cold in winter, hot and humid in summer; the stress of several unremitting bad situations; an aging metabolism (that one especially!); travel (except that I actually lost weight in Japan and thought my hostess should open a spa/weight loss clinic for fat Americans); sickness and hospitalization; and whatever else happened to me this year. But really, the only reason I did not succeed is because I did not want to badly enough. Remember what I said at the beginning about the successful? They made a decision to do it no matter what.
Along the way I have read a lot and pondered a lot about the process of gaining control over my eating and exercising habits and patterns. I have learned a great deal about myself and what it will take for me to make that decision.
I grew up thinking that I would graduate from high school and immediately get married. That was what I wanted; that was all I wanted. The other girls I grew up with wanted to go to college, serve missions, travel, work and do all sorts of fun things, and THEN get married and have a family. Guess what? They got married and I did all that other stuff. When I was about twenty-six and had an inkling that I may never marry and that I did not want to be a receptionist the rest of my life making just about minimum wage. An employer offered to send me to college so I could become their accountant. I enrolled in one of those colleges for working adults where you attend one class per month and at the end of thirty-six months you are awarded a degree. I lasted nine months and decided that being an accountant was stifling. I changed jobs, and schools and declared art history as a major because I had liked that class at the first college. In fact, the professor of the class had recommended me to the dean of the Law school on the basis of my writing ability. I met with him and had an interesting conversation, but since I was still technically a freshman we decided to wait until I was further along before committing to anything.
At the new school, a local two year community college, I took two courses per semester and loved every minute of it. Until I took the second half of art history, where I discovered that the teacher was an arrogant boor who delighted in trick questions on quizzes and exams. I finished the course and changed my major to straight history.
Almost every class I took excited my curiosity and I would think I want to take more of this. After another year I changed my major to English because I had a fantastic teacher for a course called Vocabulary through Semantics. I totally loved that class. We had to write essays frequently. After the first one came back with a grade but little marking on it, I approached the teacher and asked for more input. I wanted to improve and could not unless he showed me where and how. Thereafter he used a lot of red ink on my papers, but I learned so much more!
What does all of this have to do with dieting? I’m easily distracted by new interests. I read once of a man who chooses one subject to study each year and becomes an expert on that subject. I tried that and lasted about a month. I just do not have the discipline to focus like that. I am more like a butterfly flitting from flower to flower, tasting the sweet nectar of each one briefly before being drawn to the next brightly colored bloom.
Perfectionism is another of my handicaps. I want to have the perfect plan, the perfect planner, the right tools, all the resources lined up and ready to use. I want there to be no interruptions (like that’s going to happen with a husband and children around). I want the weather to be perfect every day for me. I want to have the correct exercise clothes and equipment, the right walking shoes, and plenty of comfortable socks. All of that costs money and that has been in short supply until just recently.
I have had to return to my “pioneer” roots of Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without, in order to begin where I am. Circumstances are never going to be perfect. There will always be glitches, flexibility will be needed, and pressing forward in spite of everything will be the way to make progress.
A few years ago I determined that I wanted to be a doer, one who does, rather than one who dreams, plans or otherwise does not get things done. Little by little I am overcoming my weaknesses. It is hard work. I follow a blog called “If you do stuff, stuff gets done.” I love it!
Now for a quick recap of the last of yesterday, and then today.
My husband saboteur redeemed himself by taking me for a walk when he got home from parent/teacher conferences. The night was still warmish and the sky was brilliant with stars. We walked up around the square as usual and it was a nice ending to the day.
Today I’m pleased that I resisted temptation at Wally World, where every aisle is loaded with them. I must admit that I wasn’t initially resistant, I picked up a bag of Brachs crème pumpkins and another of candy corn. They were in a basket just inside the doors and looked so inviting and on sale. However, as I walked through the aisles getting the four things on my list I realized that I was sabotaging myself and that I would end up eating a few and throwing the rest away, which would be bad for my figure and bad for my wallet. So I did the dishonorable thing and dumped them on the nearest shelf.
I raked leaves again today; this time with our daughter’s help. We managed to get bigger loads on the tarp and into the trailer. I can feel the effort now in my shoulders and back. Hopefully those flabby muscles are being tightened and toned by this exertion.
Lunch was comfort food today. I made three corn tortilla quesadillas. I ate them with probably a quarter cup of chunky salsa, which I love. To further fall off the wagon, so to speak, I had about a quarter cup of chunky chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.
Tonight’s dinner was a cheeseburger and fries from the local Mexican/Italian/American restaurant up town. I ate only half of the burger, and only a few fries. It was just too much and although it tasted good, I just could not force myself to eat any more than that.
Overall, in spite of waking up with an earache and facing temptations, I think I did fairly well.