One of the Wisest of Women came for a brief visit, and as usual brought me her wisdom and a new insight into my never-ending struggle to lose weight. Stacy was in town to speak at our quarterly staff meeting this week.
In the two years since we worked together, she has returned to school and is 75% thru her Ph.D. course load and is working as a researcher in obesity at the state land grant university. The combination of her work experience and her studies gives her the exact set of skills and knowledge that can provide good training and insight to our staff of health educators and exercise physiologists.... and HR me!
It has been fun over the years to learn tidbits from their specialty. In 18 years I've heard at least 100 presentations on some part of health education, and have worked with staff as they developed at least 1,000 programs so I have more than a working knowledge of the field and less than expertise. Stacy's talk on Theories of Behavior Change was not over my head at all, and led me to an ah ha moment.
Self-efficacy - a fancy scientific name for self-confidence. Apparently the reason that many people fail in their efforts to change their behavior is that they are not confident that they can do it. "I need to go to the gym every day, but I can't make the time." " I want to stop smoking, but I smoke three packs a day." " I want to lose weight, but I love to eat."
I just don't believe that I can do it. Wow, there it was. Right in the middle of her presentation it hit me square in the face - almost viscerally. I really don't believe that I can do it.
And, there's a lot of evidence that proves me right. I lost 35 pounds six or seven years ago before putting it all back on. And, I can't count - or even remember - all the other times that I have lost 10 - 20 pounds, just to regain it. A true yoyo dieter. There it is - evidence. I can't do it.
Wait a minute. There's also evidence that I can. What about those 35 pounds? I did lose it. It was hard, but I did it. And I kept it off successfully for 18 months. Bought an entire new wardrobe in a much smaller size. What can I do to replicate that success? What happened? Why did I put it back on? What can I learn from that experience that will make me successful again?
Simple answer: I'm an emotional eater. Something bad happened and I packed on 10 pounds in one week (seriously!) and then "what the heck?" Rather than lose the 10, I gained 25 more seeking comfort in food.
So what's the take away message from Stacy?
1) I can do it. There is evidence. I have done it successfully in the past.
2) I need to reinforce that successful behavior. I need to tell myself - daily? Well, how about at every meal and perhaps when I think I want a snack? - that I can do it. I can skip the extras. I can eat smaller portions. I can throw away food!
3) I need to go back to what I know works - smaller portions, keeping a food journal, and more exercise. And I need to add good self talk.
Ok, so it's been five weeks since I launched my 10-10-10 campaign and I have lost exactly zero pounds. It's a two-pronged campaign - more exercise and less food.
I have done a good job of getting myself to Jazzercise more days a week. Last week it was four, and as much as I hate to admit this... I am starting to resent things [like work] that keep me away. The next step is to add afternoon classes when I miss my morning class. Right now we are headed to a week's vacation where we plan to play a lot of tennis and have already reserved bicycles for the week. The plan is to do some form of physical activity every day, so that should be an acceptable substitute for dance class.
And, I have a new strategy for eating. Remember past success. I can do it.
And you can, too! Think about it. Do you believe you can do it? Do you.... really?
1 day ago