I want to begin this post by saying that if you are considering surgical intervention for weight loss, please be sure that you also take care of the head game too. I think that sometimes whenever we attempt to lose weight, the one thing we do not remember to take care of is our brain and our psyche.
We meticulously plan meals, count calories, fat grams, carb grams and protein grams. We measure out appropriate portions of food and track every bite, lick and taste that passes our lips. We take the right supplements at the right times of day and remember to drink our water. We even plan workout schedules and wear fitness tracking devices when working out to see how hard we are working or how much we are walking. We may even take measurements of key body parts and take photographs at certain intervals so that we can see the change in ourselves over time. But we rarely remember to perform the most important self-care that you can do whenever you’re trying to lose a large amount of weight–taking care of our minds. And it is our brain that requires the greatest amount of TLC and maintenance along any weight loss journey, no matter how you choose to pursue it.
I knew going into this process that having the help of mental health professionals was going to be critical, especially since my surgeon emphasized the need for support groups and encouraged my attendance at such. Never mind that a psychological evaluation was a requirement of my insurance company and my surgeon before I would even be cleared to have surgery. Back in March the therapist who conducted my psych evaluation, Dr. A, recommended that I attend the weight loss support groups he runs at the hospital where my surgery took place. I am fortunate in that the hospital where my surgery happened has two separate support groups for weight loss–a monthly group for those who are at various stages of the process of losing weight surgically, and a weekly group for those who are simply trying to lose weight whether it is surgically or not. What really appeals to me about both groups is that the programs are based in behavioral science and teach strategies for identifying behaviors that may derail weight loss while promoting and teaching behaviors and strategies that will assist in weight loss. Because the groups have science-based strategies, this appeals to the biologist in me.
I have only been able to attend the weekly group so far, as it meets Thursdays and I don’t have other things that conflict with the time of that meeting. The monthly group, however, meets at the same time as my Rotary Club meeting happens. I will have to find a way to attend the monthly group sometime so that I can see how that particular group works.
The weekly group has been tremendously helpful beyond measure. Dr. A recommended that I begin attending those meetings in March, so I have been going every week since then. Each week we discuss a different strategy that will lead us to success in weight loss, should we choose to implement it. I can honestly say that some of what I learned in group helped me lose 11 pounds before I began pre-op dieting.
One of the things we talked about this past week was motivation and identifying the roots of motivation for certain behaviors. The therapist leading the group (an intern) taught us about this tool that is often used with recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. I don’t remember the exact name of it, but it looks a little like this:
Looking at it, it seems contradictory that a pro and con together would both be considered pros for pursuing the behavior but when you think about it, it makes sense. The cons on the pro list are actually reasons to perform the desired behavior, and the pros of the con list are cons to not performing the desired behavior.
As a group, we went through the exercise and used physical activity as the desired behavior. The list we generated was fairly comprehensive for all four quadrants. After we’d spent about 30 minutes generating the four lists as a group, our leader then told us that the reason you make these lists is so you can work toward what the group has dubbed the “juicy sexy list”–things you ultimately hope to accomplish that are very deeply personal as a result of changing your behavior. These are the deeply seated things you want to accomplish that motivate you to continue pursuing healthy behaviors. They can be as tame as being able to cross one’s legs to something far more racy. I’ll let your mind wander as to what some folks said in group the other night. 🙂
Once I got home, I went ahead and generated my own four square with the same behavior because physical activity is something that I have struggled with for the past 20 years and it is something that I know will be key to my success along this weight loss path. So I generated the list above and then I started thinking about my own “juicy sexy list.” What would I put on my list? Here are a few things–I’m not sharing the entire list as some of it is far too personal for me to list here, but here are a few choice things:
- Once I get to goal, I want to go to New York City, walk all over and shop all over town. I’ll need a brand new wardrobe by then. 🙂
- I want to take dance lessons with my husband so we can dance together. We’ve never done this successfully.
- I want to be able to wear knee-high boots and a short skirt. Hell, I just want to be able to wear boots. I am a rare Texan in that I do not own a pair of cowboy boots.
- I want to be able to someday wear heels. Not stilettos, but something higher than a 1″ heel.
- I want to hike through the Redwoods.
- I want to travel to Spain, Italy and England and walk everywhere without getting exhausted.
- I want to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge.
These are the things I think about when I think that this path I’m walking is too hard and that I can’t go on. These are the things I think about when I’m tired of drinking one. More. Protein. Drink. These are the things I think about when I see foods that my brain (and thus, my inner Fat Girl) really wants me to eat but my hands refuse to pick up and put in my mouth. These are the things that motivate me.
What motivates you to stay the course? What would you put on your “juicy sexy list?”