Saturday, October 31, 2009

The ELEM-6 Diet, Part-5: Haven't Got a Prayer?

[Please excuse the rough-draft nature of this post. I'll come back to it in the next few days and clean it up. I just wanted to get it to you ASAP] --Allen

My dear still struggling friends. In the psychological /spiritual battle regarding weight, one needs every tool possible. For folks of faith, this means, among other things, prayer. Now don't go thinking (as us overweight folks so often do) that this will make things effortless or so easy one need not work very hard. No--prayer is not some spiritual magic diet pill that will enable you to lose weight while you sleep. Yet--yet, there is something to earnest prayer which connects us to God in a way which leads to victory when previous efforts--even valiant ones--have failed.

Let me tall you about how prayer was a significant element in my beginning to get real about losing weight. I work at my church and our ministry team holds a weekly staff meeting. Besides the church issues we discuss, staff members will often ask for prayer regarding someone or something in their area of ministry. Also, staff members will ask for prayer for a family member who is ill or for some other personal issue. I'm a fairly private person and do not readily share my personal problems and struggles. Last year though, in April or may, at one particular staff meeting, I felt like I should illicit the help of others with my struggle to lose weight (or, perhaps I should say, my lack of being willing to really struggle meaningfully about my weight). So when it came my turn to ask for prayers, I told them how much my excess weight bothered me and how I had failed time and again to control my eating. I confessed that it was an embarrassment to me and a further embarrassment to tell them this. At any rate, no one made a big deal of it or commented much. nonetheless, I now believe that my prayer request to my co-workers that day somehow played a vital role in my eventual success. For all I know, it was the prayers and faith of one of them which really made the difference--and not so much my own.

I should mention here that this happened a full six months before I began to get serious about my weight. However, having asked people to pray for me made me all the more aware that something had to happen and it needed to happen sooner rather than later. One great thing which came of my confession to my co-workers is that one of them, our church's youth leader, would pop into my office every week or two and ask me how my dieting was going. This made me feel guilty when I had to tell him I wasn't yet making much--or any--progress. I was walking a bit (EM), but had not begun to EL yet.

My suggestion: Either in person or perhaps by email, select a handful of people who care about you and tell them how frustrated you are with trying to lose weight. Tell them you know you really must find a way and need all the help you can get. Ask them to remember you in their prayers in this regard. If you are really brave, you might invite them to ask you form time to time how it's going.

O.K. I have now revealed you one of the secret strategies of the ELEM-6 diet which is not contained in the acronym. Perhaps I should have called it ELEM-6+P.

That's all for now. Keep checking back in the weeks ahead as I share more and get into some real detail about how I began in earnest and what that was like.

PS-- You CAN do this! You must, you can, you will!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

The ELEM-6 Diet, Part-4, I Must I Can I Will

To my dear sisters and brothers still struggling. I hope you are at least at the "I must" stage. That is a good place to begin. "I should" just doesn't cut it. "I Should" doesn't begin anything. It is the same as saying "someday." "I must" on the other hand drives home the imperative of the situation. I can no longer put this off with "I should" and "someday." When we say, "I must" to ourselves, we put ourselves on notice that the day of reckoning is at hand. No more putting it off with avoidance strategies: "Well, after the holidays..." That won't do. "I must" means now--before, or even during the holidays.

Oops--out of time. More next time.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The ELEM-6 Diet, Part-3: D-Day

My annual physical having been a couple of months back, I had been in to see her for something else, which I can't recall at the moment. The point is that, during both visits--and of course in previous physicals--I'd given a blood sample. Now I get a call from the doctor asking me to come in for a follow-up visit. I was a bit concerned because I'm the one who is suppose to initiate an office call, not my doctor. Of course I went through a bit of the normal, "Uh-Oh--maybe I have cancer of some other terrible disease" thought process but, but beside that I was not too worried really. More curious than anything.

What she wanted to talk to me about, I discovered, was my blood sugar levels. She had been looking over my my chart and had noticed a steady incline. This climb in my blood sugar levels was in the pre-diabetic range she explained. My first thought was, "You mean you actually read my chart and take note of trends?" I was impressed that some professional--any professional--actually did what we all assume they should do. [You know, like auto mechanics telling you the truth and lawyers billing you accurately] Anyway, after the good feeling of being looked after, I had to face the bad feeling that what she was telling me might have somehow have some unpleasant ramifications for my lifestyle. I was right about that!

Our conversation went something like this:

Doctor: Mr. Randall, at this rate you will be on insulin by this time next year. For now I want you to begin taking Metformin to get your levels down, and I want you to begin taking your blood-sugar levels daily. These are a start, but they don't really address the fundamental issue.

Me: Oh, I see. You mean I need to change my diet to include fewer sweet things?

Doctor: No. That might help a bit, but it's your weight that is the main factor here. As of today you weigh 243 pounds and that is a several more that last time you were in to see me.

Me: You're right doctor, I know I need to but I just can't seem to find the time in my schedule. I'll try though.

Doctor: You have been telling me that for several years--but it is not happening. I'm just telling you that now you are facing some serious health consequences in the years ahead if you don't get a handle on this.

Me: Do you think I could get off the Metformin and the finger pricking if I lost some weight?

Doctor: Theoretically, yes, you could. But to do that you'd have to lose much more than just "some"--you'd have to lose a lot of weight. And frankly you don't seem capable of getting motivated to do so.

This last statement of hers really stung--because it was so true. She was absolutely right. Although I inwardly bemoaned my weight on a daily--sometimes hourly--basis, I seemed to myself to be completely incapable of getting motivated enough to do the simple but difficult thing [ELEM!] it takes to lose weight. Oh, I could come to a decision on New Year's Eve of on my birthday or some other time to "cut back" or "eat more sensibly" or "eat a healthier diet" but even those very modest efforts would only last a day our two--often only hours! Sometimes only until the next meal.

I've been round and round in my mind exploring the causes and reasons I eat like I do, or, I should say, like I did--but I really don't think there is much help in going there. I knew that food was a great comfort and solace for me and that I used it as a substitute for all kinds of psychological things I should have sought by other means, but that understanding in itself never helped me much when it came to getting motivated to lose weight.

I left the doctor's office feeling like a failure--again. I also felt like my doctor was exasperated with me and my prom ices over the years to do something about my weight. She was right--I'd just been putting it off and putting it off and had not been getting serious about doing something about my weight.

As I walked out of the building and down the sidewalk on Fourth Avenue, a small but essential thought rose in my mind. It was my voice speaking to my reluctant self. It simply said, "It is time. I cannot put this off any longer. I have to find a way to do this."

Please reread the last three sentences. This was a critical turning point. I had no idea how I was going to do it, but I knew I could not put it off any longer. I knew I would not do it with any fad diet. I knew I had to face the reality of E-L-E-M...

In the next post I will go back in time and tell you something I did about 6 months before this which helped to set the stage for this turning point. And, although this "something" I am going to tell you about was followed by 6 months of failure, nonetheless it was, I have come to see, a very important key to unlock the mystery of motivation.

For now, meditate on accepting that the putting this off must soon come to an end. Go ahead and panic if you like. Let you face-stuffing inner-child throw a tantrum if she likes. You will soon be sitting her on a stool in the corner

Meditate also on these three phrases, for they form the mental basis of all that is to follow in the months ahead:
I must. I can. I will. This may sound like pop psychology, but it is not. It is ELEM-reality therapy! You must consider each statement by itself and accept its implications: I must do this. Not just "I should do this", but "I must do this. Sit with that a while.

I can do this. This is essential. Drop all the "But it's so hard" and "I know I should" inner dialogue. D-r-o-p it! You can do this! Yes, it will be difficult, but no matter--it must be done and you can do it! You know you can. You have just been too lazy or too afraid to tackle it. Well, just get over it because you know deep down inside that you really can do it. You've just been putting it off. Not for much longer though.

I will do it. Perhaps you are not quite there yet. That's OK. It's OK because you going get there soon. How do I know? Because you are going to go over and over the previous two statements until you are all the way there. You are going to accept "I must" and "I can" so completely that you will have no where else to go but to "I will do this".

I love You two women like sisters. I will be praying for you as God ushers you into and shepherds you through the changes ahead. Remember, God can do abundantly above all we can ask or imagine--through Christ Jesus our Lord!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The ELEM-6 Diet, Part-2: A Personal Word

My dear friend struggling with weight,

I only have a spare minute to jot you a little note in between posts. I just wanted you to know I haven't forgotten your anxiety and and perhaps even desperation over the struggle to lose weight. In my next post I will recount the trip to my doctor which [a number of different expressions could be plugged in here] got me off the dime, or if you like, inspired me to (again) attempt to lose a serious amount of weight. It was November 19th of last year that my doctor got just a bit exasperated with me and my offhanded and always-broken promice to loose weight. I'll tell you more about this in my next post.

I will have to keep repeating that I didn't go on a diet--at least not the way "diet" is commonly understood. I didn't follow any "method" in particular. Having said that, I do want to give a detailed (as much as possible) answer to the question I hear so often, "how did you do it?" So, in the posts to follow, I will describe to you, in chronological order, the things I did to lose 75 pounds in 10 months. Stay tuned...

Oh, one more thing: If you want to follow my "method" (which, remember, is really no method at all) call today and make an appointment with your doctor. Make it for two or three weeks from now so I can get you ready for how you will want to approach the visit. You can give any reasonable explanation for making the appointment. Schedule an annual exam if you haven't had one in a while. Even if you aren't due for one, pay to get one anyway.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

At Last, The ELEM-6 Diet Revealed, Part-1

So many people where I work and at my church (the same place) have asked me how I lost so much weight (80-pounds in 10 months) I decided to put it in some sort of formula fashion so anyone wanting to take the same path could have some pointers in doing so. One person especially is very anxious to know the secret to my weight loss. I am dedicating this series of articles to that person. I will write as if I were addressing that person directly. Feel free to listen in.

Before jumping right in to the particular weight loss "secrets" I "discovered" I need to say a few things about the subject of weight and dieting in general. First and foremost, there are no secrets to be discovered. That's the first thing you'll have to accept. But of course you already know this. You just need to drop all the wishful thinking. Sorry, no silver bullets. Don't search for any diet with a name or any "diet program". ELEM-6 is only a name I gave "my" diet--which is no diet at all--as a spoof on all the diets with have names: the Atkins Diet; the South Beach Diet; The Beverly Hills Diet--there must be a thousand or more of them out there. Those names are all about selling books. So here is the big ELEM-6 revelation in as brief a way as it can be said: Eat Less and Exercise More--Six days a week. There, that's all there is to it. I could just plink a period down at the end of that last sentence and conclude this article right there, but that would be a bit cruel--even kind of cold and heartless. I don;t want to do that. I have to much deep and genuine sympathy for those who struggle and agonize over their weight. I know, I have most of my life. I do need to say more, but but before I do, you need to accept the simple truth that you already know exactly how to lose weight. We all know it. We just hate the cold mathematical-like reality of it and we long for something that will fast-track us to wight loss with not much effort or, or, --OMG--hunger. This is exactly why I call ELEM-6 [I wish I could put that little Trade-Mark symbol right after it] "the diet no one is talking about".

Here is an important 2-part disclaimer: 1) I know many people are helped by finding a diet with a name on it or who pay to join a program or hire a trainer. When it comes to weight loss, I really am for "whatever works for you". Even though I make fun of some of these things, I understand that people trying to lose weight need to find that help wherever and however they can. I just think that those things can often be a way to avoid facing the water-in-the-face reality that, once really and fully accepted, can be the real beginning point for substantial and weight loss. To that last sentence I almost included a clause about maintaining your weight loss once you've achieved it, but then backed off because I've not done that yet. If and when I've stayed at my preferred weight for a couple of years then maybe I'll write about that. For now, I'll just tell you about how I went about losing it. 2) I know that a few people have some rare metabolism or thyroid condition which requires surgery or some kind of special treatment. If that's you, then these articles are not for you. If you suspect you have some such condition, here is my advice: Stop using that possibility as an excuse not to try to lose weight. Go to the doctor, take some tests, then come back here if--as I suspect--you don't have any rare metabolism condition. If you are like me you don't have a metabolism problem, you have an eating problem. And for heaven's sake, please. pul-eeze don't call it, or think of it, as a "eating disorder"! Yikes. Drop that term like a hot baked potato... Hmmm...with real butter and sour cream...and chives...oh, and bacon bits and cheese. Sorry about that. :-)

Well, there is your intro. I want you to think about this little (but big) hard-to-swallow pill I've set on the dinner plate here before you. Think about what it would mean to take an ELEM-6 pill first thing every morning for the next ten months. Think about this for a few days and then I will tell you more about just how I got started and how, perhaps, you can get going in the same direction. See you back at this blog spot in day or two.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Weight Loss, Self-Image, Time Management and the Apple Cart

Little did I imagine, back in November of 2008 (the 19th to be exact) just how much an appointment with my doctor was about to change my life. People see my weight loss and think that's the big change. From their vantage point I know it is strikingly true. My appearance is so changed that some people at church are even struggling with a bit of cognitive dissonance and saying things like, "That was weird--I didn't recognize you for a moment there." I have to admit that, even for me, the thin-ish guy in the mirror is strangely unfamiliar still. I actually think my face looked much more friendly and warm when it was more rounded. And now that I have gone and shaved my head, my appearance looks, even to me, more different still--rather turtle-like really. Except for my white scalp and skin, I now look like one of the BlueMen (I love their music/act!). I suppose I'll get used to that turtle-headed guy in the mirror, but perhaps I'll need to try and purposely smile more to make up for the kind of gaunt monkish look my face has now taken on.

As I began to say, my appearance is not at all the biggest change since I began to lose weight. The biggest change is a shift in how I see and manage that ever-faster moving element in my life--that illusive, fleeting, mercurial, conveyor-belt-ish thing we call time (Remember that song by--Who was it?--called Time? It was all echo-y and psychedelic). My doctor had been on my case for two or three years about my weight. She said I needed to get more exercise and to do it more regularly and intentionally. I would always answer that I just couldn't fit it in to my busy schedule. I was already getting up at 6:30 or 7 and that seemed pretty early to me.

As I left the doctor's office with my prescription for Metformin--and a glucometer with which to prick my finger several times a day and record my blood-sugar levels--I determined that, convenient or not, I'd have to find a way to squeeze some exercise into my routine. The only place in my schedule for any new activity was in my mornings. Ugh. This would mean getting up earlier. I began getting up at 5:30, but after getting dressed and wrapped up (It was cold then in late November) it was ten-'till-six which didn't leave much time to walk and then take a shower. Eventually I found that the only way I could get ready and get in a sufficiently long was to get up at--gulp--4:45. Some days were really miserable. Now, almost one year later, this formally absurd hour of the morning seems a pretty "normal" time to get up. Nowadays for me, "sleeping in" means sleeping all the way through to 5:30 or 6:00. I guess it just proves that one can get used to nearly anything.

Well, Time compels me to wrap up this post and hit the "Publish Post" button so my waiting readers--both of you--can have a fresh morsel to consume. Now I must do some further research into something called Single Malt. Perhaps I will blog about my findings at some future time--Time permitting that is...