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Q and A: Busy Schedule and Pushy Parents

Posted Nov 11 2009 10:00pm

Hi, Kelly!

I’ve been following your blog for about a month now and I absolutely love it!

I’m in a huge rut right now and really need some help. About a year and a half ago, I made a conscious decision to get healthy and I went from my highest weight of 218 to my current weight of 180. Thus far, I’ve managed to do it all on my own and, while I still have a bit to go (my goal is 130; I’m 5′3 btw), I can honestly say that I’m very proud of myself. For the past year and a half, I’ve been able to find time to exercise for almost every day of the week. But things changed when Fall semester started in August(I’m a college sophomore). For the first time, I’m working while in school and my schedule is jam packed. I’m busy from the crack of dawn to nearly midnight on most days. I didn’t want to my schedule to be an excuse to not be active, so I’ve been trying to find ways to get “mini-workouts” through my day. I use my breaks in between classes to go walking. I usually take the stairs when going to class or my dorm room. When going from Point A to Point B, I try to take the longest route possible. While all of this has prevented me from gaining weight, I’m not losing weight either. I know I could lower my calorie intake (I’m currently eating anywhere between 1400 to 1600 calories), but I really don’t want to eat less to lose weight. How can I get more exercise into my day?

My problem doesn’t stop there (I told you I was in a HUGE rut). On weekends, I go home to spend time with family, do my laundry, and buy groceries for my dorm room. When I go home, my eating habits change completely. When I’m staying in my dorm, I eat plenty of fresh fruits and veggies and make sure I’m eating enough complex carbs, protein, and good fats. I’m even started to dabble with organic foods. But when I get home, I’m practically binging on nearly every over-processed food known to man. Cookies, bread, pastries. You name it and I’ve probably had about 20 servings of it in one seating. My parents know that I’m losing weight and they seem to support it. I’m not sure if it’s because of cultural differences (My parents are from Haiti and I’m their only US-born and raised child), but I’m having an incredibly hard time trying to convince them to change their eating habits. Food is a big deal in Haitian culture and, at least in my family, it’s a little disrespectful to not eat the food that is cooked in the house. My mom, in particular, is having a hard time understanding why I eat what I eat. Often times, she finds my preferences of food to be bland (which they are NOT) and dismisses them because they don’t taste as good as “Haitian food”. And when she tries to convince me to eating something that I know is unhealthy, like fried fish, she’d say things like “But it has protein!” It’s so frustrating because I’ve had a problem with binging my whole life and the things are in my family’s kitchen are the very things that I used to spend hours eating when I was little. How can I convince my parents to, at least, change their habits a little?

Sorry for the long-ish email!!

Marsha

Part One: Schedule

This one is hard. Most of the time, when people say they don;t have time to work out, its an excuse because they can make time to workout. I’m going to assume you aren’t exaggerating and that you really truly are that busy- for which, holy cow girl, you poor thing. first of DO NOT CUT DOWN ON YOUR CALORIES you aren’t eating very much as it is, and anything less will halt your progress even more.

So the first thing you need to do is see if there is anyway you can consolidate any of your activites- work and school you obviously have no control over, but are there random errands you do throughout the day that can all be done in one trip at the end of the week? Things you can put off until the weekend? Then, see if there is anything you can do while you workout. Study your textbook on the treadmill? Listen to lectures on your iPod while you walk or lift weights? I find I actually remember material better when I read it while working out- and its harder to get distracted. Next- since your weekend activites aren;t time sensitive, this is when you should be getting in your killer workouts. What you lack in frequency has to be made up with intensity, so find a gym, take some cardio and strength training classes, hire a personal trainer, something that will garantee you get your ass kicked.

Which leads to Part 2: Family

I don;t mean to sound critical, but you are an adult now and your parents have no control over you. This is something that it took me a LONG time to figure out, and actually had to have a counselor scream it in my face because I was always wracked with so much guilt over EVERYTHING when it came to them- even though, at the time, they were toxic for me (which is basically the stem of my past eating disorder and sounds like could be the root of your issues with binging.) Your parents actually sound quite nice, which trust me, even though they can seem overbearing, it could be WAY worse.

You parents raised you and from what I can tell they did a good job. You are responsible, hardworking and can take care of yourself. You do not need to change their habits in order to uphold your healthy ones. They actually sound pretty nice, and not too pressuring, although I know when they are your parents, its harder to stand up to them. Be polite, and just say no thank you. You are going to run into plenty of fituations where people are going to push food on you, and if you cant stand up to the people that love you and support you no matter what, you are going to have a tough time with the people that make fun of you, or roll their eyes.

Just say no. Politely. Say, “thanks mom, and I appreciate you making this food for me, but I’ve told you I am trying to take care of myself and eat better, so I am going to eat what I have prepared for myself.” Make it clear you arent trying to change them, so they shouldnt try and change you.

I’ve been through this. Not so much with unhealthy foods, but with life in general. If your parents are not healthy for you, and they do not help you make wise deicisons for yourself, or make you feel guilty- whether directly or indirectly, don’t see them as often. It didnt even occur to me that I could do that before, but my couselor taught me that you have to look out for number one, which is you, and if anyone, ANYONE, be it family friend or aquaintence, does anything that brings you down, or triggers you to make bad decisions you know you cant afford to make, remove yourself. And trust me, they learn quick. There were many times I would have to stop one of my parents mid sentyence during a visit and say “this situation is not good for me or my health right now and I need to leave. When you can remember to respect that, I’ll come back.” Do that a few times and those critical remarks, backhanded compliments and food pushes will stop quickly.

You need to take care of yourself. You are an adult and no one has control over your life but you. You need to make a change- both in your schedule if its running you ragged, and how you choose to spend your free time if its making you make bad decisions. That doesnt mean you cant see your family, but you may need to teach them that you are an adult and can control how you are treated.

Who’s Coming to Costa Rica With Me??

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