Monday, July 16, 2012

Brushing off the crumbs

It's been over a year since I've last posted progress on my attempt to nix my potato chip addiction. As I brush the dust (and the crumbs) off this blog, I'm finding myself with mixed emotions. A sense of pride of some of the progress and accomplishments I've made over the last year. And a sense of frustration that I find myself still facing the same struggles.

Let's start with the positive. A year ago, I wanted to be able to change my lifestyle. The big thing I have discovered over this last year is that change takes time. And change comes in surprising forms. In my quest to give up one of my favorite junk foods, I found myself yearning to be more active. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone as I searched high and low for a fitness routine that suited my lifestyle and kept my interest.

I started out simple, signing up for an adult co-ed softball league to try and get more active, which also had the added bonus of meeting new people. And things started out great. I had a team full of great people I enjoyed getting together with two times a week. Then came Game Three. I pulled two thigh muscles just running to first base and had to crawl off the field. I couldn't believe that something I thought would be so easy - something I enjoyed as a kid - could be so difficult on my body. I vowed to change this.

So I grudgingly signed up for a Couch to 5K program at work. Running had never been anything that I enjoyed. Or excelled at. But I wanted to be strong. I wanted to be fit and healthy. And I had to start somewhere. And the best thing about this program was it came with a built in support group. I had a coach and I had friends struggling right along with me. And then I got that first runner's high.

To date, I've now run five different 5Ks. I've set a goal to run a 10K next year. I've lost some weight and I feel myself getting fitter, getting toner. But I still face that internal struggle, still hear that voice of something crunchy, something salty whispering sweet temptations in my ear.

I still can't say I eat very well. I know my choices are wrong. So as I pick this blog back up, I'm working now on holding myself accountable to change something I've constantly told myself I can't. I never thought I could be a runner a year ago. Now I can't imagine not being one. And if I can get off the couch and run laps around the person I was a year ago, I can make this last change that seems so impossible to become a much better me.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Size Really Does Matter

After 4 weeks of the potato chip experiment, I’ve made a very eye-opening discovery. It’s not necessarily the potato chips that were my problem – it’s the way I snack, period. While I’ve successfully pushed the chips to the side, all that has done is make room for more snacks. I haven’t changed my habits of constant snacking, late night snacking, couch snacking, etc. While some snack substitutes have been healthy choices, I’m pretty sure my choices of red wine and chocolate ice cream are not working toward my weight loss goal.
I really should change my introduction on the first post of this blog to say, “Hi, my name is Jocelyn, and I’m addicted to snacking.”
I keep trying to repeat to myself “21 days.” That’s how long it takes something to become habit. And now that I’ve eliminated my worst snack habit, it’s time to refocus on the habit of snacking itself. Replacing the bag of chips in my desk drawer with a box of healthy cereal isn’t doing much good if I’m eating large quantities many times throughout the day. So it’s time to go back to those temptation zones and zero in how to remove my desire to snack.
Temptation Zone B – work.
Starting today, no snacks are allowed in my desk. Coworkers reading this, please police me often! From now on, I’m only bringing in portioned snacks and meals. My wallet will stay locked up in the car throughout the day to avoid the temptation to go to the vending machine or run upstairs to the food court for a snack. If I feel the urge, it’s water and/or a vigorous walk.
Now, for my bigger temptation zone – the home playing field.
While chips are no longer in my house, I’ve still got plenty of snacks lying around. And while pretzels are better for me, I’m sure I’m just negating that healthy snack with the jalapeno cheese dip I dunk my pretzels in. I can’t necessarily remove all the snacks from my house – there are three other hungry mouths that live there – so I have to do what I can to make myself stay away from them. I’m not sure what that’s going to be yet. But I need to hold myself accountable before I put that snack in my mouth, so I’m going to be looking more at calories and portion sizes this coming week. Again, not sure of my best plan of action yet, but I’m sure there’s an app for that. And I’m addicted to my iPhone almost as much as my snacking.  

Monday, July 25, 2011

From bad habit to good habit

I've now been chip free for officially 25 days. And it feels good! The support and accountability has really helped me keep my hand out of the bag, even when I'm dying for just one of my salty delights. I've chatted about my progress with my best friend, who lives in Colorado, and she's been very supportive. She also told me that it takes 21 days of doing something for it to become a natural habit. And I feel like after my first 21+ days, not binging on potato chips is now my new natural habit. While I would still love to eat some, I don't feel the urge anymore to sit on the couch and do nothing but eat chips. I have a new good habit I'm following and keeping - I'm thrilled!

But what now?

I have to admit, I really hoped that I'd see pounds magically disappear from not eating chips alone. And while there's been some progress, I see the pounds fluctuate. I've come to realize that my body is not the same as it was 10 years ago. If I want something to drastically change, I'm going to have to make drastic changes. I can't expect to throw out the chips and drop a dress size. It's not realistic.

The good thing with the potato chip experiment is that it showed me I really can change a lifelong habit. It's possible. My attempts at dieting and working out have partially failed because I quit too soon. I don't think I can do it. It's too hard. But now I see that if I put my mind to it, I really can make healthy changes in my life.

So now it's time for me to take the next step and really focus more on eating right and exercising. I'm pushing myself to work harder at the gym. I want to be able to write 21 days from now that going to gym and being more active is now a new, natural habit of mine. I've been experimenting with different exercises to see what I enjoy - for instance, I do not enjoy Zumba. Being naturally uncoordinated and not dancey, I felt awkward and heavy. That's the opposite feeling I want a workout to give me. So I'm moving on and trying something new. The good thing is, the more I keep trying, the more active I'm getting. The less time on the couch I'm spending. It might be small steps toward a big goal, but I'm getting there.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dude, where's my chips?

The longing for potato chips this week has intensified. I've been so focused on ignoring chips and trying to find alternatives to eating that so far I've been able to ignore that craving. But now it's come full circle. As I've been combing the Internet for healthy snack alternatives, all it's done is made me want more chips.

I ran across this article as I was wiping drool from my mouth and chewing on my water bottle straw as I searched for some new snack idea besides carrots and nuts. Apparently there really is something to the potato chip addiction because according to this article from, a recent study in the journal of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) stated that eating potato chips (among some other fatty foods) can trigger the body to produce chemicals much like those found in marijuana. Apparently the fat triggers the release of endocannabinoids in the brain, which is known to increase your appetite and the sense of taste.

No wonder they say you can't eat just one.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Small Changes, Big Results

When I first started my job at Health Alliance, this was the name of a children’s newsletter I did for a healthy lifestyles program for kids. It was one of my favorite projects to work on and the name of it keeps ringing in my head lately as I think about small changes.
Not eating potato chips was the first small change I decided to make as a step toward bettering my health. So far, so good and it’s even led to another small change – incorporating exercise back into my life.
I’m at week 2 of my potato chip experiment today. I’ve lost two pounds. I’ve started, slowly, getting back into a routine at the gym on my lunch breaks. I’ve started taking 15 minute walks at work when I can. But I’ve found myself being overwhelmed with guilt at times. My trips to the gym don’t feel long enough. I should be doing more. I’ve cut out potato chips, but I should cut other things from my diet, too. I feel the changes I want to make spiraling down on me, and I’m beating myself up for not living up to the health standards I want to yet.
That’s when I remember the whole purpose of the Small Changes, Big Results program. It’s all about making small changes in your life and how it can have big results. I know from experience that trying too much at once will only backfire and put me back at square one. If I jump into the deep end on this without really knowing how to swim, I’m going to drown.
 I also realize that subconsciously, I’m missing potato chips more than I realize. The other night I had a dream I was in the car eating potato chips and didn’t even realize I was eating them until I was halfway through with the bag. I think week 3 might see some withdrawal symptoms, so my goal for this next week is to find some healthy replacement snacks that won’t make me miss chips so much. I value my sleep way too much to have it interrupted by guilty dreams.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Will I need a passport? Heading to foregin territory today.

As I prepared last night for a day at Temptation Zone B, I did my ususal - laid out the kids' clothes and shoes. Laid out my clothes. Packed the diaper bag for the youngest child. Got coffee ready to start in the morning. Packed a lunch, breakfast and even a healthy snack. (This is an improvement! Usually it's raiding the change jar in the kitchen so I can make sure I have vending machine money.) But as I prepared for my day, I packed something else - something unusual. Something I haven't touched in a long time. Something that seemed unfamiliar on my shoulder.

My gym bag.

I might have mentioned before my mainly sedentary life. The gym is unchartered territory for me. Yes, I have a membership. My visits, however, are inconsistent. But I'm determined to change it, to change something at least. Frustrated with the lack of downward numbers on the scale, I'm anxious to push myself harder to get the results I want.

I've been lazy lately. I've been tired. I've enjoyed lunch breaks going shopping, simply working, or, better yet, reading a book while eating chips and then catching a quick power nap in my car. So today's journey is going to be unfamiliar. And difficult. I can't say I enjoy excerise. But I can say I want to. Even more, I want to enjoy the results that come with exercise.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Now Walk it Out

It's Day 7 of my potato chip experiment and I woke up this morning with some excitement. Today's the first day I planned on measuring to see if I've had any success - also known as, stepping on the scale to see if I've lost any weight yet.

I held my breath and stepped on - only to see the exact numbers I saw last week at my weigh in. Down to the ounce. Disappointment flooded over me. I truly expected/hoped to see some downward movement in the numbers. But I'm determined to not lose focus. If anything, this just energizes me to push myself harder.

Which brings us to. . . . .Temptation Zone B - Gainful Employment.

Snacking for me is habit and I tend to do a lot of it my desk while I work. I often eat lunch at my desk and finish it up with a helping of potato chips. When I'm hungry, that's what I want to snack on. I used to even keep a can of Pringles in my desk drawer. Yesterday was my first day back at work from the July 4th holiday and I felt the temptation of wanting to run to the vending machine and grab some munchies. Instead, I made myself get up from my desk and do something else to not think about food. I took two posters down to the mailroom that needed shipped. I got a glass of water from the break room. I chatted with a coworker about a meeting we had that afternoon. By the time I got back to my desk, I had not only lost the sensation of hunger, I was energized to do my job again.

So as a potato chip "patch" at work, I've decided when I feel the urge to eat chips come on, I'm taking a walk. I don't know how many times I've promised myself to fit in a 30 minute walk each day at work and this is how I'm going to do it. I've downloaded some kicky new tunes on my iPod and even dug out my dusty pedometer. Instead of counting missing chips this week, I'm counting my steps.