So, I just read this super thought provoking article in The Atlantic about cognitive dissonance.
“Cognitive dissonance, coined by Leon Festinger in the 1950s, describes the discomfort people feel when two cognitions, or a cognition and a behavior, contradict each other. I smoke is dissonant with the knowledge that Smoking can kill me. To reduce that dissonance, the smoker must either quit—or justify smoking (“It keeps me thin, and being overweight is a health risk too, you know”).”
It occurred to me that I’ve been actively engaging cognitive dissonance for years now. Like, I’d find a reasonable justification for polishing off an entire pint of Americone Dream in one sitting, despite knowing full well my A1C level was dangerously flirting with Type 2 diabetes. I’d tell myself something like, I worked my ass off today, so, yeah, I deserve six slices of pepperoni pizza. Or, even worse, Well, if I ever do cross over that Type 2 threshold, I can always just take medication, so…
While menopause, aging, and perhaps even genetics may play a role in my extra padding, the truth is the ten plus pounds I’ve gained since last November alone are much more to do with a devil-may-care attitude over the holidays, so many bottles of wine, La Brea Bakery olive bread dipped in a bowl of salted EVOO to pair with the wine, an unrelenting refusal to break up with Ben&Jerry, and mindless noshing while binge watching. Throw in a global pandemic, which, I mean, was the perfect excuse to self-medicate with edibles and snacks galore, and then combine everything with a general laziness and an utter lack of motivation and, well, it’s no big surprise I eventually had to buy bigger underwear.
To avoid falling into a pit of despair, I pretty much quit weighing myself. Ignorance is bliss, after all, but on the rare occasion I hopped onto my analog Sunbeam bathroom scale, invariably, the needle was nowhere near my ideal weight range. Thankfully, clothing hid a multitude of my gluttonous sins; that is, until the manner in which my clothes fit clearly indicated I was pushing maximum density. As soon as I began having to do this sorta mouth breather gasp whenever I bent over to tie my sneakers because my Buddha belly restricted my air flow, I knew I couldn’t continue living in sublime denial about my weight and, more importantly, the risk I was taking with my health.
When I heard on NPR that virologists and epidemiologists strongly believed underlying conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes, might possibly be a contributing factor in many Covid-19 deaths, I knew it was imperative I do something to improve my situation. Like, now.
But what to do?
What I could do to get myself to a healthy weight and also lower my A1C level that didn’t involve prepackaged food or counting points or calories or cutting out entire food groups?
Soon thereafter, the answer I was seeking magically arrived in a random email from a totally unfamiliar entity called Omada, an online program geared to help people just like me make behavioral changes in order to prevent Type 2 and heart disease and, in the process, lose weight.
All I had to do was commit to daily weigh-ins using their wireless digital scale, log my food and activity and participate in the weekly lessons via the app or website.
Plus, Omada provides the ongoing support of an actual human professional health coach. Best of all, the whole thing is covered by my health insurance.
One of the things I especially like about the Omada program is that there’s no plan, in that, nobody’s telling me what I can and cannot eat, so I’m not experiencing that panicky deprivation feeling.
It’s weird, but having license to eat whatever makes me super mindful about what I put in my body. Knowing I can have a date with Ben&Jerry if I want, that it’s entirely my choice, well, I gotta say, it’s kind of empowering and it creates the space I need to adopt healthier habits for the long haul.
Speaking of healthy habits, I’ve added evening bike rides and walks on top of all the dog walking I do all day. I even got myself a fitness tracker. And per my health coach’s suggestion, I’m now happily living in the Blue Zone as I’ve adopted a mainly Mediterranean diet, which I’m finding incredibly satisfying.
Omada’s overall, whole person approach to a healthier lifestyle definitely works for me, as opposed to my semi-desperate attempts at Keto or Whole30. Plus, there’s something about having to weigh myself every morning, as well as log in my food, that keeps me in line.
Seeing that number on the scale go down is the best kinda motivation, though. I’m well aware I’ll eventually hit a plateau or that I may momentarily backslide into old habits, but rest-assured, my coach is gonna lend support every step of the way.
I’ve just completed my third week and I’m already down five pounds. I’ve got seven more pounds before I hit my first goal and quite a few more before I hit my next goal. I gotta long “weight” to go, but I can do this. And you know what? My body is gonna love me for it.