Voices from My Bunker 2020: Seat in Reality Ballpark with only Cut-Outs of Friends & Family.

The Reality Ballpark is a phrase I first used 10 years ago to describe how I began trying to maintain a weight loss. I needed to take a seat in the Reality Ballpark each day by stepping on the scale. It has been a winning strategy but now, in 2020, I am using this phrase in an entirely new way. I've been able to manage my weight these past 10 years but today am trying to manage risk by remaining in my seat. It is a formidable challenge.

One way of understanding this challenge is: As the last ferry leaves the harbor with most of my friends and family, I am sitting in The Reality Ballpark with their cut-outs. What in hell?

This week I interview myself as that is what it has come to: I talk to myself these days. Click on white arrow in lower left hand corner to listen. And, PS. Only fools represent themselves in court and interview themselves.

PS. I designed a fabric that used all the symbols cartoonists use to indicate one of their characters is swearing. It is called “Grawlix”. I used this pattern to produce small accessory bags or a large beach bag available in my Etsy store. Instead of a swear jar, you can carry your bag around with you and let the bag do your commentary on life, diets, pandemics, politics (!!) in 2020. You can click on the images to go to my new store.

It's a perfect signature product for me for those of you who know me: if there were awards for creative swear chains, I'd at least be nominated. Check it out.

Curses Bag
An accessory bag to hold your swears and curses in 2020
Large Weekender Tote

PODSNACKS 009: The Reality Ballpark


[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]It's called DIET because all the other four letter words were taken. -Anonymous [/pullquote]

As of today, October 14, I’ve published 238 posts since February.  88 of them fall under the category of “Habits”.

As I focus on why we have been successful maintaining a significant weight loss it’s becoming clear that it’s more about habits and less about food choices.

Here is a link to all 88 posts!  They can be found at www. artodthediet.com-slash-podcast/009 if you are seeing these notes within a podcast app.  Today, I'll focus on 5 Habits that help me lose a small gain at the scale and prevent it from becoming a larger gain.

[smart_track_player url=”http://traffic.libsyn.com/coakleycreativemedia/PODSNACKS_009-The_Reality_Ballpark2_mixdown.mp3″ title=”The Reality Ballparl” artist=”Pat Coakley/Podsnacks 009″ social=”true” social_twitter=”true” social_facebook=”true” social_gplus=”true” ]

One thing I know for sure: my lifetime rollercoaster diet ride was riddled with making self-destructive food choices, no matter the consequences.

It wasn’t a logical, reflective process where I was considering the pros and cons of the particular foods.

So, I’m going to focus today on strategies I do use regularly to break this self-destructive impulse, which sadly, has not gone away with the pounds.

It is embedded in the circuitry of my brain like this autumn leaf in newly poured asphalt in a nearby parking lot.

Studies will affirm that the longer you ride the rollercoaster gain and lose weight train, the more embedded these behaviors become and consequently very difficult, if at all, to extricate at the root.

I just have to manage them.  And, it is easier with these habits.

It’s a real scientific fact that should lead to more, not less, funding of parents and kids programs of healthy eating.  If you can get the fundamentals earlier in your life, your health issues into longevity might be quite different.

So, here are the habits I call on when the scale indicates a gain as they did last week and produced a loss this week.

Sometimes, I do all of them; sometimes, I just do one of them: weighing myself every day.

I call it taking my seat at The Reality Ballpark.

  1. I weigh myself every day on a wireless scale that records my weight so I can easily compare the day to day direction.
  2. I track just one morning of one day of the week exactly what I eat, regardless of food choices. Or, I’ll do just the afternoon.  Or, the evening.  I hate tracking but I know if I do the inner tracker, I get into trouble, so the reality ballpark requires an occasional multi-hour pen to paper track, if not a whole day of tracking. 
  3. I’ll add another walk or going up and down steps to my loft while talking on the phone.  I make myself stand up and move more during the day spent at the computer.  I got a cheap, stand up desk that I use when I need to still work but can move around while working.
  4. Three food habits: a. I prepare ahead of time several meals that are balanced and portion controlled BUT meals I look forward to. b.I reduce the carb portion of my snacks, ie. if I use, for example, a half-whole wheat pita bread and a slice of swiss cheese for a snack, I’ll just eat the cheese. Protein snacks are best for me. c) Recently, I have been returning to more of the three meals a day model as opposed to the grazing model discussed last week.
  5. All of these things are doable.  They are not big huge changes and I find small behavioral changes can erase the small gains at the scale and keep me on track and give me a sense of making a choice rather than being controlled by dysfunction. This most definitely helps structure me and I think addresses the underlying” if hunger isn’t the problem, then food isn’t the answer” vortex that is the engine of any compulsive behavior, and most definitely mine.

Also, doing something small, less invasive, helps keep my motivation higher.  Extreme or drastic measures no longer appeal to me nor do I think I could actually do them.

My days of hot dog and grapefruit diets or super galactic colonics are “ovah” as we say in Boston.

So, hope this gives you some ideas and I’d love to hear some of your habits you use to counter a small gain at the scale and what you know works for you in the comment section or over at my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/artofthediet.

PODSNACKS 002: How to Not Solve Your Weight Problem


This is my third episode of PODSNACKS: The Art of the Diet Podcast.  It shall be a weekly podcast, published every Wednesday, starting next week, on September 2.  The daily blog will still be written but the podcast will be weekly.

People, how do normal humans do a podcast every day??   I DO NOT KNOW.

Today's episode is about how to NOT solve your weight problem or any other problem that becomes more comfortable than uncomfortable.

[smart_track_player url=”http://traffic.libsyn.com/coakleycreativemedia/PODSNACKS002-PROBLEMSNOTSOLVED_mixdown.mp3″ title=”PODSNACKS 002: How Not To Solve Your Weight Problem” artist=”Pat Coakley” image=”http://artofthediet.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/AOD-PODsnacksART-1400x1400srgbf.jpg” social=”true” social_twitter=”true” social_facebook=”true” social_gplus=”true” ]

Here's how to not solve your weight problem:

Join a national weight loss program, pick any of them, any one of them, believing you'll solve your weight problem.  Keep paying their fees, months after months, year after year.  The problem?  You never reach your weight goal.  Sound familiar?  Or, if you do, you have to rejoin the program in order to lose the same weight, or a good portion of it, over again.

I have to begin with a photo to illustrate this doozy of a deep thought of the day.

This is a self portrait taken a couple of winters ago by my lovely expensive camera and  wide angle lens mounted on a suction tri-pod on the right side of the front hood.  In addition to being a potentially hellacious loss of my main camera and favorite lens,  I had a flash unit in my lap, a small remote wireless trigger in my right hand, and I had to coordinate all those things to achieve my vision of the finished photo that I had in my mind.

In recent years, I've developed an aversion to driving long distances, a surprising thing to me as I've been described as “you look like you own the world when you drive.”  This agin' thing is narrowing my world and I'm sure anxiety plays a role but,  if I was off the highways of life, I wanted to at least document what it feels like.  I broke down the end photo this way:

I wanted a photo of me in my car,  in motion, while I was driving and looking anxious, but didn't want to achieve this image by having any cars on the road that I could crash into or could run over my camera if it fell off.  So, I went to an industrial park parking lot on a Sunday morning. Positioned the starting point of the car near a strand of trees because I knew they would look dynamic on the finished photo if my shutter speed was open enough.

That's the techie part.  But, why do I share this story today on this blog?

I had to really get out of what I was comfortable doing…#1 discomfort: exposing my camera to a suction mount on my hood was terrifying to  me despite assurances by B&H folks that it would work.  I knew in order to get the right photo, it would take many trys at having all these things, the flash, the remote trigger, all being pressed at the same time I was holding the wheel.

Yeah.  Kids, do not try this at home unless you are an octopus. A rich octopus.

But,  what's the connection to this blog?

I know that there are a lot of folks out there not making progress with weight issues but “thinking” they are working on them.  Week after week “thinking” you are on a solidly healthy path but, in effect, not making progress toward your weight goal is the same thing as not being on a plan except worse, in some ways.   If you are not on the healthy path to begin with, at least you are not feeling guilty about your failing efforts or delusional about making progress.  At best, you are content with staying within the status quo.

The meeting I go to week after week, year after year, seems to have fewer folks who reach their goals.  Maybe, in fact, there are fewer people to begin with, I don't know.  But, I can't remember the last time someone in the group reached their goal.  There are many who return to “start again” and there are those who come week after week and go up or down but it does not appear to be a solidly descending line.

They get stuck.  What I worry about is when I'm stuck, I am not at my best.  Take avoiding the highways for example.  Yes, I can take a photo of what it “feels” like but there's a real downside.  My world is narrower.  There are many events I don't go to anymore, like a workshop in photography, for example, that I would have normally hopped in the car and gone to, I don't go now.  I try to teach myself on line as best I can.  I am dependent on someone else to drive me to those events I can't get to on my blesséd back roads that I don't mind driving at all.

It is a supreme pain in the hind quarters.  But, I don't really do anything about it. I'm living with it, resigned to it, swerve around it as best I can, like a body in the road.  (OMG) And, with each day I swerve, my world narrows.

I think folks who are living with their weight issues by joining a group but don't ever seem to reach their goal within the group after months and months and years, may have a form of this handicap. I'm not saying you don't have your up and down weeks. Not. At. All.  What I'm suggesting is that when that is ALL you have and not a steady descending line to your goal and maintaining that goal, there might be some degree of “being stuck” in the membership mix.

They know they've got a problem.  They decide a group support will help.  It does.  But, it doesn't seem to get them from Point A to Point B.  It would be like me joining a group of folks afraid to drive on highways  who want to get over the fear, and years later, still a member and still afraid of driving on highways.  Does it help me to talk about the fear/anxiety issue? Maybe.  But, when does talking about an issue become permission to have the problem and make it even harder to solve?

If I'm still not blasting down the highway with the top down and tunes blaring, and restricted to Sunday morning parking lots to create my art, I must just want to show you my problem rather than solve it.

I'm here to tell you that even though I'm sharing this problem, I have no incentive to solve it, but I did have the incentive for the weight problem.

I did it by getting way way, WAY out of my comfort zone: weighing myself every week in front of another human. Like it or Not. And, there were many “Not” days. Every. Week. Year In. Year Out.  There was no option in my head to skip it.  I set up the discomfort rules with full knowledge of what would make me uncomfortable.  It wasn't a sadistic “discomfort” but a “truthful” discomfort.  In other words, combat the “comfort” of negotiating a problem you don't tell the truth about in the first place, not even to yourself.

And, if you have done that every week weigh-in at a meeting of any sort, but not reached your weight goal, substitute a non-meeting “official” person and see if that kickstarts your plan.  Develop your own witness protection program I mentioned in another post.  Do something you've NOT been doing to get you off the “STUCK” block.

I am living proof, as I wave and pass you on my scenic side roads, that being too comfortable with a problem is in the long run one of the best ways never to solve it.