Another week of weight gain, and while I didn’t always make good food choices while traveling, I still think this gain is more about stress and travel bloating than actual food intake weight gain.  The good news is that my busy annual tour is now officially complete, and I’ll be home more often, and can settle back into a routine.  The first thing that needs to happen is I need to drink more water. I’ve been absolutely horrible about my water intake.

I think it’s time to start exploring some new food recipes.  With all the traveling I’ve been doing, I haven’t been cooking at all, and I love to cook.  Normally, with fall approaching, I’d be cooking more comfort food, but I want to break out of that habit and cook some healthier stuff that is still comforting.

What’s your favorite source of healthy AND delicious recipes?

Last week was my busiest week of the fall, as I traveled for seven consecutive days and performed at five different venues in four different states.  When I travel a bunch like this, I find that I get bloated pretty easily, so I’m hoping that the increase is really just water weight, but we’ll see.  I have to continue traveling next week for work, so it could be a bit before my body gets back to normal.

I spent the last week traveling around the country, performing stage hypnosis shows for colleges.  Lots of flying, airports and hotels, and driving rental cars to the performance venues.  It’s not helpful in terms of supporting good eating habits.  You tend to look for food that’s convenient instead of food that’s healthy, and the hectic pace is a bit stressful, which triggers more urges for crappy food.

Luckily, I’ve been doing this annual tour for fifteen years, so I’ve gotten better and better at managing those factors, and the results show at this week’s weigh-in.  I still can do an even better job.  I definitely had some times where I grabbed a cookie or had a drink with sugar in it.

It’s particularly important that I get to that next level of clean eating, as I’m now off the second steroid taper, and my itching has come back a little bit.  It’s nowhere near as bad as it was, and I want to keep it that way.  In fact, I want it gone.  In order to achieve that, I must manage my stress even better, push more water, and reduce the sugar and carb intake.

What are your favorite healthy, natural foods?

The week after the hypnotists’ convention, I began my annual “Back to School Tour” where I travel around the country performing stage hypnotism for colleges as they begin their new school year.  This is always a fun time of year for me, as I get to travel around, meet a lot of nice people, and be in the role of entertainer.  While it’s a really busy time, it’s not something that I think of as stressful.  There’s a definite feeling of relief as I’m at the point in the year where I really just focus on this one thing, and so my stress has definitely reduced.  I’m still on the steroid taper, and I feel pretty good.  Sometimes the steroids affect my sleep, so there’s a little bit of a negative factor there, but overall I seem to be doing pretty well, and it was reflected on the scale.  I’m under 300 pounds!

Obviously, there’s still a lot of work to be done, but there’s something about not seeing that “3” at the beginning of the scale read-out that has really lifted my spirits.  I realized, as I was reflecting on it, that it has been nearly three months since I started this project, and while I have lost weight much slower than I hoped, I have also gone nearly three months without ever gaining more than a half pound in a week, and that’s a pretty significant change in my old pattern.  For years, the pattern was to keep going slowly and steadily upward, and now I’m going slowly and steadily downward, and that’s a great feeling.  And again, to have done it without dieting, without aggressive workout plans–just by shifting my thoughts and awareness a bit–is pretty cool.

But there’s still a lot of weight to lose.

So now I find myself debating internally; do I keep going the way I’m going, or do I make a shift that somehow accelerates things, so that I don’t get too comfortable with the way things are?  One of the things I’ve learned about myself is that when I get comfortable, it never leads to anything good.  Shaking things up gets me to create new things, achieve new things, and keep growing.

I mean, at my current rate of progress, it’s going to take me three years to lose the weight I want to lose.  Not cool.  Clearly I have to adapt to some new strategies and practices, and create better results.

The day before my hypnotists convention, the itching was so bad that I wanted to scratch the skin right off my body.  I went to an urgent care, and they put me back on steroids, but a slightly higher dose this time.  Within a day of being on the steroids the itching was practically gone, which was such a relief.

In speaking with the doctor, the possibility of an allergy was discussed, but it seems more likely that I’m having a giant stress reaction, and my body got crazy inflamed from all the stress.  While I did definitely have a poison ivy reaction on my hands, that was the only place where it looked that way.  The rest of me was quite different.  The doctor suggested that I might be having a bout of urticaria.

I only share this because it links to an important issue relative to weight, which is stress.  If my stress is so bad that my skin is breaking out in some kind of crazy reaction, what other ways is my body being affected by that stress?  Surely there are cortisol spikes, increased urges for carbs and sugars, and eating challenges that come from being in that stressed out state.  Not helpful for losing weight.

This brings me to yet another disappointing moment as a hypnotist: why am I not using hypnosis more effectively to manage my stress?!  I know that hypnosis is an excellent tool for stress management, and yet I am not practicing this particular action on a daily basis (most weeks, not even on a weekly basis).  This theme of knowing something, but not practicing it is one of the core issues that I really must face.  My challenges are largely due to avoidance.  I keep avoiding the issue of my weight, and my stress, and then wondering why I’m not at optimal wellness.  Quite frankly, it’s stupid.

So, at the time of this post, just returned home from convention, I’m now on a daily routine of stress management that includes listening to audio programs at bedtime, as a way to get grounded and clear before I go to sleep, and then a morning hypnosis routine so that I start my day with a more clear intention and positive energy.

The poison ivy has mostly gone away, but I’m still finishing my steroids regimen.  I itch all the time, still, and my whole body has a light pink rash.  The itching is so bad that it wakes me up at night sometimes, so my sleep quality is suffering, and there’s a link between poor sleep and weight gain, but I’m hoping the effect for me over the past week has been minimal.  It reminds me that I should get some guests on the show who are experts on the sleep/weight relationship.

In any case, weighing in down to 301 was a relief this week.  I didn’t make any significant changes to my diet or exercise regimen.  I’m still just focusing on only eating when I’m hungry.

This week I’m heading out to Marlborough, Massachusetts for the annual hypnotists’ convention, and that always gets me fired up about the work we do.  Perhaps I’ll start actively practicing self-hypnosis after spending a few days with my colleagues talking about varied strategies and approaches.

After last week’s weigh-in, I went outside to do some yard work, which has been a regular part of my morning routine since I started this project.  I get outside first thing in the morning and get moving, just to start my day with some light activity.  Lately I’ve been doing a lot of weeding in an effort to improve the appearance of the flower gardens around my house.

As I pulled at this particular batch of weeds, I noticed how the roots ran under the dirt in long stretches.  “Gosh,” I thought to myself, “this stuff is almost like ivy, more than a weed.”  And then it occurred to me that that it was ivy: poison ivy.  I immediately went inside, disrobed, and showered with as much soap as possible.  Two days later, I awoke to find that my right eye had swollen shut in the night, and the rash was quickly spreading all over my body.  Apparently my shower spread the oil around on my skin more than removing it.

So I made a trip to the doctor’s office, and I’m on a dose of steroids, which the doctor said can cause weight gain, but I am actually down a pound from last week, so we’ll see how things go.  I spent two days on the couch, moving as little as possible because I was so physically uncomfortable, so my activity level lately has been really low.  I think the discomfort has also reduced my appetite, so maybe it’s all going to balance out.

Well, I’m kind of hovering at this weight, and that’s frustrating when I first look at the scale, but then I think about how I’m not actually dieting, I’m not working out, and I’m eating whatever food I want.  I wouldn’t recommend this as a weight loss approach, but it is an important part of my exploration.  I’m really staying focused on the idea of re-learning to recognize when I’m truly hungry and when I just feel like eating.  It’s pretty fascinating.

I’m having days where I don’t eat until one or two in the afternoon, and it really doesn’t bother me at all.  The days when I’m struggling are the days when I’m stressed.  That’s when I catch myself eating sugary foods that I don’t really need, and eating food when I’m just not hungry.  I must do a better job of managing my self-care so that I’m not consuming these foods needlessly.

No change in weight since last weigh-in.  It’s now been five weeks since I officially started this project, and I’ve lost 4.5 pounds, so a little less than a pound per week of weight loss, if you average it out.  While the results are disappointing, keep in mind that I really have not followed any specific program or approach so far; I’ve just made some small adjustments to my lifestyle.  I’ve created opportunities to be a little more active, I’ve increased my water intake some, and I eat only when I’m hungry.  These have been easy changes to make, really, and I could keep going this way, but that would mean that at the current rate of weight loss it would take me two years to lose the weight, and I’d rather not take that long.

So, today I’m starting Phase Two of the project.  I’m going to start actually using what I know about hypnosis and develop daily self-hypnosis practices.  Specifically, I’m going to target two issues:

  1. Sugar consumption.
    I’m still consuming quite a bit of sugar in the foods I eat.  Sugary drinks, cookies, the occasional ice cream cone.  I’m still consuming foods that are more about getting pleasure from food than getting nutrition from food, so it’s time to start re-wiring that impulse at the subconscious level.
  2. Portion size.
    It’s been really cool making the shift away from old eating patterns based on time of day and cultural expectations, to eating only when I’m actually hungry.  The new challenge that comes from this change is that a fair amount of the time, I’m getting to a point in hunger where I’m then eating more than I need when I actually eat.  I’m often eating to the point of being full, rather than eating to a point of being satiated.  I should be able to work on this with self-hypnosis, increasing my awareness of how my body feels as I eat and putting the brakes on sooner.

I’ve been interviewing experts in hypnosis and other areas for five weeks now, and those interviews are going to start airing soon, so I’ll be able to connect what I’ve been learning from these amazing people to the work I’m doing for myself.

Small victory, but I’ll take it.  With the fourth of July holiday mixed into last week, which did involve some cookouts and indulgent choices, to drop a pound and a half is okay in my book.

Last week, I brought up the idea of becoming more aware of when I’m truly hungry and when I’m not.  So, toward the end of the week, I started the practice of not eating until I actually felt hungry, and I actually found that I wasn’t eating until one or two in the afternoon!  I don’t expect that to last forever, but it has been a fascinating experience to have.

I’m also starting to do better with my water intake.  I’ve gone from one or two glasses a day to 3-4 glasses a day.  I have a feeling that next week my numbers are going to show a considerable improvement.  It feels like momentum is finally building.