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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Don't be a Crab: Conquering Old Habits Through Adversity

I made it back from our vacation to visit family.  What a fun week!  I was really nervous to go.  Most of my friends and family are aware that I have started this blog, and I was worried that my "look" wouldn't meet their expectations.  I worried that they would expect a huge difference and that I would be teased relentlessly about the blog.  I didn't think that I looked any different (although I had lost some inches,) and I worried that "The Healthy Redhead" wouldn't be seen as "healthy."

Old Habits Die Hard

Things were different.  I had changed. A few days into the vacation, my brother asked me if my loved ones were being supportive.  I think that he might be the only one in the family that actually READS any of this.  I explained that the family is emotionally supportive, and as far as the diet goes, well, they don't tease me about only eating a little bit, or choosing healthy alternatives, but they don't go out of their way to help either. I have changed my lifestyle to something different than it was when I lived in Utah.  However, I found it increasingly harder to say NO to the goodies, snacks, meals, etc that were being placed before me.  The more that I said NO, the more I started to feel deprived.  It is a lot easier to maintain a healthy diet when you are surrounded with healthy foods.  It is also a lot easier to remain emotionally healthy when you are surrounded with emotional health.  I found that I struggled with my diet (although I won the struggle and still came out on top,) but my emotional health didn't need attention at all.  I was surrounded with love, fun, and happiness!  It's just too bad that the love, fun, and happiness came side-by-side with cinnamon rolls, bacon and eggs, or ice cream!

I don't know if it is like this everywhere, but I have noticed a trend.  I can't place it to just Utah, or Mormons, but I think it is more common in those cultures.  Have you ever noticed that any time you meet with someone, there is food?  The conversation usually goes like this:

"Hi!!  It is SO good to SEE you!!!" 
"Hey!  We are in town and would love to see you!"
"Sweet!  Let's meet on Tuesday at 7:00, we could do dinner!"
"Cool, what can I bring?" OR "Where should we meet?"

Sound familiar.  Well, LAST TIME we went to Utah, the hubby and I actually ate SIX full meals all in one day!!!  THIS time, I was determined to nip that in the bud. This time, the conversation went along the lines of:

"Hey!  We are in town and would love to see you!"
"Sweet!  Let's met on Tuesday at 7:00, we could do dinner!"  
"We will probably have eaten already, BUT, let's meet at the park and let the kids play or play Frisbee or something."  OR, if I had not eaten "That sounds good.  How about I bring the veggies?"  

The Crab Syndrome

This little trick helped us out a lot.  HOWEVER, I did run into some snags here and there.  There were times when I would show up and there would STILL be food!  What is it with this idea???  Even after I told our
friends about my journey and The Healthy Redhead, they STILL would present me with tempting foods, or activities.  My brother calls this the "Crab Syndrome." You have probably heard of this.  It describes a way of thinking best described by the phrase "if I can't have it, neither can you." The metaphor refers to a pot of crabs. Individually, the crabs could easily escape from the pot, but instead, they grab at each other in a useless "king of the hill" competition which prevents any from escaping and ensures their collective demise.

Look, we are all going to face this in our lives.  Whether our vice is our physical, mental, emotional or spiritual, we will face those that will bring us down.  And, quite honestly, we are all going to BE the one pulling another down at some point.  I don't think that we realize when we are doing it.  I don't think that OTHERS realize when they do it to us!  But it happens. Your spouse may complain about the money spent on your weight loss efforts.  Or, perhaps, you will go to a family party where everyone is eating desserts and telling you that it is OK to relax for ONE DAY (which it is, IF you DON'T go overboard too much and are prepared to get right back to "normal" ASAP.)  Perhaps YOUR crab is the scale, or just looking in the mirror, or.... just, you.   Who knows, but it WILL  DOES happen!

Climbing Out of the Pot

How do we avoid The Crab Syndrome? These are some tips that I found to be helpful.

1.  Compare yourself with yourself and ONLY yourself.  Look, things are going to get you down or make your life harder than it needs to be.  That's life. I just think that if we are in tune with our own desires, struggles, and emotions, we can have a better understanding of our needs.

2. If there is room for a little taste, have one!   At one point on vacation, I was faced with MULTIPLE desserts!  Yummy, gooey, lovely desserts!  We all know that being TOO strict makes us feel restricted.  So, I had a VERY little bit of EVERYTHING.  I got to taste everything, and then... I dramatically walked away!  It was hard.  Others were still eating and some were even taunting me, telling me how yummy it was.  But, I was able to feel like I had the best of both worlds because I still got to try the food, but didn't have to feel guilty about it.  That felt GREAT! Now, OBVIOUSLY, there are some things where even a little taste will have really bad consequences.  In that case, use some of these other tips to help keep you in check.

3. Rely on your support group.  Imagine what the crabs could do if they worked together as a team!  They could help each other out of a pot, and all LIVE!  I believe that this group needs to be accessible at any time.  Weight loss groups are good and helpful, but they aren't there at 9:00 at night when feeling down or faced with a temptation.  We have a great support group on Facebook at The Healthy Redhead page. I was able to post a picture of what I was faced with, and IMMEDIATELY got support and ideas of how to deal with it.  I encourage everyone to do this!  You can usually find that people are on Facebook at any time of day or night.  It is a great way to gain instant support.

4. Don't hold it inside!!  This sort of goes along with the support group.  But, if people don't know that you are having a hard time, they can't help you.  If you are feeling like someone or something is pulling you down, let someone know!  You will seriously be amazed at the instant relief that you feel by just saying it out loud!  Trust me on this one.

5. Be vulnerable.  I think that in today's society, we are too often expected to BE STRONG!  In reality, when we are faced with temptations and trials, our "strong" doesn't seem that strong! I cannot express to you the relief I felt when I started this blog and opened up about my journey. The great thing is that I experienced an ultimate outpour of support.  It was amazing!  It was scary! BUT, now, I know that anyone that reads this knows EXACTLY where I am coming from, and they want to help and be a part of the community. It seems that people want to help a wounded animal than a powerful strong one.  ;) I'm not perfect, and I don't hide that fact about myself!  Too often, I have found that there are other health bloggers that only post the good things that they are doing.  I know of a lady that is constantly posting on Facebook and her website about all the awesome things that she does.  She NEVER posts if she is having a hard time, or if she "falls off the bandwagon."  Although I am sure that she is past having the frequent temptations, I seriously doubt that her life is  lived as perfectly as she makes it seem it is.

These things have helped me to keep trying to "climb out of the pot."  I haven't given up, and I don't plan on giving up!  That doesn't mean that I don't feel like it at times.  I mean, we ALL feel that way at times, right? We all feel like crabs in a pot that are all trying to get out.  The trick is to not let others, yourself, or any situation that you might be in pull you down. I am here to stay!  I conquered some hard temptations while on my trip,but overall, I was able to maintain my lifestyle while still giving in a little where I could.  I will admit however, I am glad to be back to my normal.

OH! By the Way! 

Yesterday marked the THIRD MONTH of my journey.  I was going to weigh in and post my numbers.  But you know what?  Even though there were some "crab" moments, I had some awesome ones too.  Almost everyone in my family commented on how I was LOOKING thinner!!  WHAAA??? I thought FOR SURE I wasn't looking any different at all!  But, THEY noticed!  That was AWESOME!  So, instead of using the tape measure to "measure" my success (ba ha ha ha!,) I am using the positive feedback from the trip. I must still be doing something right!  I haven't stepped on a scale in over a month!  I have NO IDEA what my weight it.  But, my clothes are loose enough to ALMOST have to go down to the next size, and people are starting to notice!  I think that is a WIN!!

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