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"BREAKING THE CYCLE OF STARTING OVER"
By Julie W.

I don't believe it's possible to start over in any aspect of our lives. I think this is an illusion we give ourselves that we will always have the option to wipe the slate clean and start exactly where we started the first time.

I believe people use the words "start over" to exonerate themselves from responsibility for their actions, to absolve themselves from the consequences of those actions.

Think about it, is it REALLY possible to go back to the exact point you entered anything?

I cringe when I hear on the boards the words "start over". If only it was that easy to truly turn back time. But then we'd have to go through the lessons that got us to this point all over again, wouldn't we?

My typical response to these folks is to "keep going" and more so "what did you learn?"

I don't think I've met the low carber who has gone from day one to the day they met their goal, without obstacles along the way. I have met MANY who have not learned from those obstacles and continue to repeat the same mistakes over and over.

A very wise man and dear friend told me (and still does to this day), "nothing changes if nothing changes". Very few changes are without discomfort now and then. What makes us think that changing your dietary lifestyle will or should be any different? Well if it gets too tough, you can always "start over", right?

I think I've told my low carb lists a million times that I consider myself the poster child for "What NOT to do on a Low Carb Diet". I've pushed the limits of what is allowable, gone purist to the point where I created more problems than I solved, I've lost, gained, and stalled out. But I never started over. I always just kept going. However, I was armed with the benefit of information, lessons and self-examination, the how's and why's of the stage at which I was.

Each experience was a lesson in how my mind and body works and how it reacts to food and carbohydrates. Along with that was a huge lesson. My health and weight problems had LESS to do with what I ate than WHY I ate. Low carb works, but not if you're eating not out of hungar but stress day after day. For ME to succeed I needed to work both on my mental AND physical health needs.

Yes, it's true. I had gained weight even while low carbing because I was a stress eater. Once I could pinpoint that and took active steps to combat stress in non-food related ways, I was on my way to REAL success.

This past year, I've had two major back surgeries and my ability to be active is very limited and will be for many months to come. The stress of having to depend on others for very simple and personal needs has been overwhelming. This includes having to trust that they are shopping and cooking "truly" low carb as well as having to be a bystander to life in general.

The stress relief strategies I've developed in the last couple of years have had to take different forms, as the more active options are out for now. With "the plan" foundation already in place it has been very easy to adapt my situation to what I need to get through this tough time emotionally. Even if my dear friends and family have to listen to me rant and vent, they've been forewarned, it's part of my therapy for stress relief without eating.

With all of this, in "my old life" I'd have gained 25 pounds this last year EASY. In my NEW life, I'm not setting any records, but I'm still down for the year! The combo of low carb living and alternate stress relief is why. Like the Energizer bunny….I just keep on going!

With the start of a new year comes the largest number of new dieters, more so than any other time of the year. New dieters make commitments to get the weight off, start exercise regimes, make plans to regain their health, begin to do those things they KNOW one needs to do to lead a healthy life.

Just the words "starting over" are self-contradictory to what you are trying to accomplish. You are telling yourself that you have failed. How hard is it to look at yourself with the self-confidence it takes to succeed at anything when you've just labeled yourself a failure?

How many of you have made New Year's Resolutions? How many of you have kept even one of them? Why?

The word resolution as a noun means determination or answer. Who among us walks into something initially with all the answers?

Most resolutions are one of two things, ridiculously silly, or unreasonable to attain. I suggest instead of making resolutions, just for the sake of it, learn to make goals. Your goals need to be workable and attainable, goals with stages.

Start with a plan; don't put the cart ahead of the horse. Accept that the "goal" will have steps along the way. For instance, if your goal is to lose weight and control your diabetes, you need to realize that this is a goal that needs to be divided into several stages to achieve.

Don't overload yourself with multiple goals. What I mean is having a list of two dozen things you're going to jump right into January 1. For instance, "I'm going to start Atkins, run a mile a day, lift weights three times a week, paint my house, lose 100 pounds, get into a size 6, and relax more". Chances are by January 5, you'll have given up on them all. You can always ADD more along the way as you conquer the ones you've begun with.

A much better worded goal (and yes, you can sabotage yourself just with your wording) would be "I'm going to begin low carbing with the Atkins program, explore and educate myself with the other options if it doesn't fit my needs. I will be more physically active than I am now, adding to that amount each week slowly. I will chart my weight and size progress so I can see the results. I will research ways to relax more. If time and finances allow see if there is a way I can get our house painted, hire someone to do it or help."

Do your homework. Don't decide that since low carbing is the "in" diet that you'll begin tomorrow then tomorrow ask "now what can I eat?" Search the internet for low carb plan options, choose one, get the book and read it. Join one of the many online support groups for questions and peer support. Know what you need to begin and stock up, as well as clean out those things you can't have.

Identify and plan for your obstacles or "excuses" to stumble. You don't have the cash after Christmas to buy the book? Check it out at the library.

Money tight and you think you will have trouble affording low carb? Low carbing is actually less expensive for many reasons. You will no longer purchase high priced junk food. Convenience foods will be replaced by actually cooking real food. There isn't a much cheaper protein product than eggs. Shopping meat sales is very doable to the point where you may see YOUR grocery bill actually go down. Most grocery stores have a sale day (usually Fridays) to lure in the working consumer on paydays. Low carb eating has a natural appetite suppressant so you won't be eating as much as you did previously. If you eat less, you'll be buying less.

If you're a stress eater, become a stress walker, or crocheter. Take long hot bubble baths with candle light. Turn off the TV and turn on your favorite music or read. There are a million tension- relieving activities that don't involve putting food in your mouth. The best things to leave behind in 2003 are the excuses, there aren't any. The same if you eat out of boredom.

Divide the goals into smaller goals. If you have 100 pounds to lose, divide that into 5 pound increments. If you want to be running a mile a day by the end of the year and you're totally inactive now, start with something both active and productive like early spring house cleaning. Decide you will clean "something extra" each day (fellas can get out in that garage, fix that leaky faucet etc). You'd be surprised how fast your stamina increases to the point you will not only have a clean (repaired) house, but the ability in a few months to be walking a mile a day, then a walk/run a few months later.

Reward yourself. When you reach your mini goals, don't forget to reward yourself. A new outfit for a new size, a favorite novel you've been wanting to read. Try a manicure, a movie with your sweetheart, or just an hour to yourself. All rewards should be non- food rewards.

Most importantly remember this is a journey. Like any road there will be turns and potholes. Above all there will be education. There isn't much in our lives that we "just did" the first time out without hitting ANY problems, difficulties, slips, or things we hadn't realized. This doesn't mean we "start over". It means you simply keep going as a wiser person. It's only those lessons we DON'T learn from that prove to be the real stumbling blocks in our lives. Everything else is just growth!

 

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