SCALES & MIRRORS (Part 9) ©
Your only goal should just be to lose weight. To set how much in a week or month sets you up to fail. You’ve got the scale and the mirror. That’s all you need to make assessments on how you’re doing and where you want to go.
I see handle bars on my hips in the morning. Sure I’m working out, so it pushes the fat outward from my body, making it more noticeable. Still, I know when I see those handles that I don’t want them, regardless of what the scale says. At that point it’s useless to get on the scale, because even if I lost a couple pounds, those handles didn’t go anywhere.
Okay, so I’m discouraged because I’m not losing fast enough. But I’m not reducing my intake by that much either. Yes, I’m eating less, especially during the day, but not a lot less, so I need to eat even less and increase my metabolism even more. One thing I stopped doing is telling myself I’m starving. I got rid of that bad habit pretty fast. Now it’s time to learn to say no to myself. I know, I’m an adult, an old one, so should already know how to do that.
When I was a child I noticed that adults didn’t say no to themselves very often; it was always no to the kids. I liked that concept of them not having to say no to themselves. Though I didn’t use with word ‘concept’ in my thoughts so young, I couldn’t wait to become an adult so I could do what I wanted instead of what my parents wanted for me. I imagined what it would be like to open the refrigerator and take whatever looked good without regard to Mom’s menu planning. Don’t touch this, don’t touch that. Mom was very organized. If somebody took something that was designated for the supper meal, that meant somebody got less at supper. That never happened, because we all knew better. Some foods were designated as snacks or between meal beverages and others clearly were not.
When I met Steve’s family I was shocked how everybody in his Mom’s and Dad’s house just helped themselves to whatever was in the refrigerator. His mom shopped every day for supper. My mother shopped every two weeks for meals for two weeks, and as needed in-between for bread and milk or for snacks on a week-end night. She always said the same thing on payday, which was grocery shopping day, when she’d buy a big package of cookies, “when they’re gone they’re gone”, which meant we could eat as many as we wanted. There wouldn’t be any more till next payday, unless of course she baked some, which in the early years, she did.
Well, now that I’ve been an adult for a very long time, I realize that those adults – all adults in fact – should have been saying no to themselves and showing their children how to do it in the process – you know, the lead by example maneuver. But back then everybody was too busy to think about stuff like that. Just do what you’re told translated to somebody else making decisions rather than you making them.
So, that’s on the top of my to-do list: learn to say no to self. Don’t wait for somebody else or something else to do it.
Some people complain that when they exercise they don’t lose weight, myself included. The reason is now clear. When scaling back on the food or altering dramatically the intake, the body lowers its metabolic rate to conserve fuel: fat. Okay, you already know this. But when you exercise vigorously to lose weight, an alarm goes off in your brain, because your body is working extraordinarily hard, which means something must be happening in the negative category. Alert. Alert. Alert. Conserve. Conserve. Conserve. You get frustrated because you’re not losing weight while you’re exercising off the charts and eating like a bird and still, not much loss.
So everybody tells you your fat is turning into muscle and muscle weighs more than fat and that’s why you’re so fat? Because all that excess baggage you carry with every movement you make is really muscle? Come on. Listen up. Fat cannot turn into muscle. The two tissues are totally different from one another. There’s no osmosis or transformation of tissue going on. Fat can no more turn into muscle than a bone can turn into blood. Need a blood transfusion? Just break open a bone.
Okay, so you build muscle tissue and you lose fat and some of the fat runs through the muscle like a well-marbled steak, but they’re still separate tissues. Now, you’re essentially all muscle, so what are you complaining about? Because the scale reads fat? You’re giving the scale too much credit for having a brain smarter than your own. Look in the mirror; do you see fat? You can see fat, you know. Even the fat surrounding all your internal organs leaves an impression on the outside of the body – that really thick, dense look in your trunk? Fat takes up space, so everything around it gets shoved aside, literally. Even if you’re blind you can feel the fat. You know what’s fat and what’s muscle so don’t play dumb.
If you want the optimal benefit of weight loss, don’t do anything dramatic to set off alarms. Eat less and less often and exercise mildly in the beginning.
Every now and then throw in a challenging exercise routine, then back off so your body doesn’t raise its flags. In other words, stop before your body tells you to stop.
Increase the exercise by small increments and do the same with food: Decrease consumption in small decrements. Remember the size of your stomach. No. Not your abdomen. Your abdomen is your girth; sure that’s big and you think you have to eat to fill the girth, which you mistake for your food tank. Stop thinking your stomach is your abdomen. Your stomach is this little tank. Stretched though. Like a tank top or like underwear that stretches to cover your fat butt.
The fat you store all around that little tank is your girth, your stash. So why hoard all that fat? Once again, you’re setting off alarms. When anybody starts stockpiling it spells trouble coming, which in turn signals to conserve by saving up, so your metabolism slows to accommodate the anticipated crisis.
Yet the crisis never comes, but still you’re on high alert, stashing more and more. The only way you’re going to come down from high alert without sending out the signal that the catastrophic event just arrived, because now you’re starving yourself on somebody else’s diet, is to decrease gradually – ease off- ease up – slowly.
Increase exercise slowly, showing everything is AOK, then simultaneously decrease your intake slowly and your frequency slowly, then stay consistent, till your body’s alarm system is off and you’re cooling down, losing that extra fluid, moving more efficiently, saying no where appropriate and not gnashing your teeth over it, but delighting in the self control you exhibit on cue, whenever necessary.
Disciplined people don’t set their alarms off much. They anticipate danger and either avoid it or plow through it, in control of what they’re doing, how they’re handling it. The best you can do is to be in control of your own actions, living by your own code, and sticking to it, not reverting to somebody else’s plan when faced with conflicts.
Don’t wait for a catastrophic event to implement a plan that could avoid it.
You be the master of you and an example to everybody else, who might like what they see as a foundation upon which they can build something great for themselves.
…..to be continued