Saturday, March 10, 2012

S.O.S Stuck Ostrich Syndome


I'm trying something new. I want to mirror my blog a little like my marathon training; one long run a week, and several short ones. So from hence forth, Monday-Friday will be filled with short blurbs with fitness tips and food for thought  Saturdays are reserved for the long posts - the long run. And just like my running, on Sunday I will rest.

Today's long run is about weight loss S.O.S - Stuck Ostrich Syndrome

Now I am not ragging on ostriches. They're pretty cool birds. They can run up to speeds of 40 MPH, their meat is super lean, and the males egg sit at night so the females can have girls night out. But I think almost everyone had heard some version of a proverb about the ostrich with it's head stuck in the sand. The idea is that the ostrich, afraid of something, buries its head in the sand so it doesn't have to see the big scary monster. Interestingly, this is a myth. The ostrich only looks like its head is buried in the sand because of its light color. Because it does lay down its head to hide, it can still see what's going on.

Now you're are probably saying, Wow that's fascinating. Thanks for the National Geographic update Betsy/ But what's this have to do with weight loss?

Well I'll tell you. In past incarnations of my attempts to lose weight, I would tell myself and anyone who would listen, that I had no idea why I wasn't dropping the pounds. I was doing all the right things: exercising, counting calories. I figured my body had some defect that demanded I be fat. My size was not in my control and I put blinders on to the prospect that I could be responsible.

But you probably guessed, I had my head buried in the sand. I didn't want to examine some of the behaviors that were keeping me fat. Sure I was exercising, but was I really putting in a full effort, or just kinda jogging in place? And when I was counting calories, did I actually measure a serving size, or did I eyeball it and estimate?  If it was a homemade meal I'm sure I drastically under estimated the calories while way overestimating what my portion size should be. Not to mention I never counted the handfuls of marshmellow cereal I would grab on the way past the pantry. There weren't enough calories in a single handful to make it worth my time to add right? Or if I finished of the kids plate? Midnight snacking?  The list goes on.

Then there's the excuses as to why I'm fat. Because my parents are fat. Because its all muscle (muscle can be really jiggly right?). Because I'm getting older and my metabolism is slowing.

It was easier not to know what exactly I was putting into my body. If I knew that each slice of banana nut bread was 200 calories, then I wouldn't be able to eat it. Easier to assume the Cafe rio salad was healthy since it was salad than to find out it was a whopping 1000 calories.

But like the ostrich (see told you I'd get back there) my head was not really buried in the sand. I may have been hiding, but I think I knew what was going on. I may have been covering my eyes, but I was peeking.  Even in my own self denial I saw the truth and that's one of the reasons I hated myself so much for it. The problem wasn't that I was fat, the problem was that I was lying to myself. And just like when you lie to someone else you feel horribly guilty (hopefully), your insides will twist up when you lie to yourself too.

So don't be an ostrich with its head stuck in the sand, or lying on top of it. Hold your head high and stay informed. If you want to lose weight, the only way you are going to do it is by knowing what your eating and how many calories your body is actually burning a day.  Be  specific, be informed. Take control. See if that cinnamon roll tastes as good now that you know its 800 calories. If it does, rock on. At least you are consciously making that choice instead of deceiving yourself.

Information is power. Get some. Like GI Joe used to say, "and knowing is half the battle"


  1. It really does change your perspective when you find out how many calories foods contain, and what a "serving size" really is (THAT is a serving of Fritos??? THAT is serving of M&Ms??? Aaaarrgh!). And I love your cinnamon roll example. Sometimes it's worth the calories; other times it isn't, but the key is to make a deliberate decision. Great blog!

  2. This is absolutely my situation. I know exactly how I have gained the weight I am carrying, but I like to pretend that it is inexplicable. Taking my head out of the sand really is the first step.



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