What Good Is Photography?

…If you can’t share it?

I love the act of taking photos, the art of making photos, and the ability in this day and age to create anything you like out of your own act of expression.

Mugs, pillows, wall hangings, thank you cards…It’s an endless source of creative fun.

And I really love that, thanks to the internet, anyone can enjoy my art as much as I do.

Society6  is an easy way for anyone to access my world.

Hope you enjoy it!

Yo and Yo again!

 

Yup, that same old yoyo-ing weight issue…again! ::sigh::

I get it. The average human being is not free to neglect and ignore their food choices and expect to stay at a healthy weight. And I get it…I’m no different.

I knew when I had my weight-loss surgery that it was not a cure. I knew that – unlike what many people think – I still would not be free to eat whatever I want for the rest of my life. I knew that the surgery was only a reset and management tool. Which is exactly why the good weight loss surgery doctors employ nutritional guides and recommend psychological support.

I also knew that some re-gain was almost a given. But I also understand, as a life coach, and an educated person, that the re-gain situation was in my control. I could choose to regain or not.

Yes, choose.

I know using this word is a contentious thing in the weight loss community. Some consider it a form of fat-shaming. It’s a thin line between expecting someone to take responsibility for their actions and blaming them for their health issues.

We now know obesity is a complicated disease. We know that in our society we have a ton (no pun intended) of help to become obese. We know there are genetic, psychological and medical factors that come into play. No one is an island. No one becomes obese overnight. And very few North Americans will go their whole life never having experienced some unwanted weight gain. There’s no shame in being human.

But wait…if we say we don’t choose to be obese, we are saying we have no power over it. And the first step in any 12 step problem is to admit we are powerless over our problem, isn’t it?

Yes, but, almost paradoxically, this is exactly how we learn to gain power over it. We admit we don’t presently have the ability or tools. And by doing so we allow the tools into our life, and learn to embrace the power.

When I say, I choose to gain weight, it gives me the power to say, I can also choose not to gain.

In my case, the regain range is 5lbs. I yo-yo within a range that is acceptable from a weight loss success standard. I chose that goal, and it might sound like a miniscule amount, but I’m such a pixie-sized woman that I notice those 5lbs without the scale.

I wish I didn’t have to weigh myself almost everyday. I wish my weight stayed stable. I wish I didn’t have to struggle with food decisions every single day! However, I’m not fortunate that way. Perhaps if I allowed myself to gain 10 or 15lbs my body would settle there. There’s so much we don’t understand yet about set points and metabolism. But, no one can say, and I’m not willing to risk the experiment. I live in terror of being obese again. I probably always will. And it’s likely one of the biggest factors in keeping my weight in control 4 years after surgery.

What we do know now is that sugar and refined carbs are drugs that destroy our bodies and change our brains. Playing with sugar is pretty much like playing with alcohol or drugs. It’s a fine line between the occasional indulgence and addiction.

So, here’s the hard truth, like it or not: I can’t indulge my food addictions and expect to effortlessly remain a healthy stable weight. Period.

If I want to indulge, then I must monitor its effect on my body constantly. That’s the adult thing to do. And that’s what I should learn to live with…because it’s unlikely I’ll never eat popcorn or savour a Starbucks Peppermint Mocha ever again.

::pulling up my big girl non-plus-sized panties::

I shall yo-yo…and I shall survive.

 

Patterns and Textures

I recently attended a college photography course on Fine Art photography. It was fascinating to learn about the history of photography and its relationship to other art forms. It also made me aware of several photographers I’d yet to discover.

Perhaps more importantly, the course helped me break free of my usual style and pushed me to explore texture and abstract photography. Breaking the usual photographic rules allowed me to dig deeper into expressing, as opposed to just capturing.

This was one such result:

hidden-worlds-sm-7

And another…

stonework-sm-2

As a nature photographer I’m naturally inspired by bark, stone, and plants…so there’s plenty of inspiration for future photo shoots. Stay tuned!

Observations On Being Natural

Earlier today, I was watching an interview where beautiful soul Alicia Keys talked about her decision to go make-up free. This talented, powerful woman made such an eloquent case for going natural; really putting into words how I feel about my own life-long tendency to forgo make-up.

I don’t consider myself beautiful in the standard sense, and I’m sure someone with a flair for make-up could transform me into a more elegant, finished version of myself. But, I do consider myself attractive enough, and my husband thinks I have the greatest smile. I’m good with that.

But here’s what makes me angry – and sad – when I see young women painted up with the fake eyelashes and heavy war paint I call that Jersey Shore s#*t.

When these young women face the mirror they aren’t seeing themselves. They’re seeing society’s version of who they should be. They’re focused on the imagined flaws artfully inserted into their brains by marketing, by subtle campaigns, and not-so-subtle magazines.

How are these young ladies supposed to reach for their dreams when they don’t even know what their dreams are? When they don’t even know who they are. They are being kept too busy by false standards of style and trendiness purposefully set just beyond their reach.

How can they know who they are when that truth is painted away in favour of the celebrity of the moment?

How can anyone reach their individual goals when their hands are full of mascara and lipstick tubes?

How can you put time and energy into attaining the life that will truly give you meaning when it takes two hours to get ready to face the world? When you’re handicapped by high heels, padded bras, and broom-like false eyelashes that weigh a ton? How can you strive forward with confidence when you’re lightheaded because you’re fasting to lose that little tummy only you really notice?

Without make-up when I look in the mirror I see my mother’s face, my sisters’s faces. I see where I came from. I see where I belong. I know who I am.

When I wear a sweater dress I see my rounded tummy, my generous hips. I see that I am a woman.

I see that I am Me. No one else. And I can’t hide from the fact that I’m no longer 21. and I’m glad.

There is a joy in aging. A moment where you realize that all the mental energy that goes into trying to feel accepted was a horrible, never-ending maze that took up far too much time and mental energy.

That is the moment when the wrinkles and the sags become silly and endearing, and the weight of the search for perfection leaves you.

You don’t have to wait for that revelation.

If wearing make-up makes you happy, if it’s an artistic touch you enjoy and not a mask to hide behind, then have fun. But don’t forget to put away the fake eyelashes, stop fasting, and focus on doing what makes you happy and healthy.

Do it now.

Remember: The world needs your dreams, your power, your uniqueness.

Society 6: Hello

As a photographer, part of the joy of making great photos is sharing them. Images that sit on a computer – occasionally popping up as a screeensaver – feel unused and dusty.

Society 6 is a great online store where artists can upload their art and allow people to use them in fun and imaginitive ways. Not just a canvas print to hang on your wall but a pillow accent, or  mug to brighten your morning.

So, here’s my store, loaded with soothing beautiful images for a yoga studio or a meditation space, or a canvas pillow combo to brighten up that newly renovated bedroom.

I’ll be adding more as time goes one, so check in and feel free to send me feedback!

https://society6.com/cindiaugustine

Taking Control

The last tip I shared on overcoming hypereating was behavioral. Training yourself to physically avoid cues and triggers will ease the stress of dealing with them on a constant basis and there’s nothing wrong with trying to make it easier on yourself. Life is hard enough!

Today I’m going to address another cognitive strategy that Dr. Kessler outlines in his book. This is a great long-term strategy that has the power to change your way of perceiving those foods that are contributing to unhealthy eating and obesity.

In the other posts we talked about the cycle of cue-urge-reward-habit. We are cued by something, perhaps visual, emotional, or olfactory. Our brains respond with a strong, pervasive, insistent urge to eat that food. We pop that doughnut into our mouths and are temporarily rewarded by its taste, sensation, smell, memories…By doing so we strengthen the habit, and make it stronger. Now the next time we are cued that urge will be even stronger.

Each time we give in we strengthen the behaviour and lessen our chances of resisting.

That’s a very important point.

So how do we break the cycle?

In my first post about strategies I talked about how we have just a few seconds in that cycle where we have the strongest chance of breaking it. By responding immediately to the cue and following through on it with all the reasons we don’t want to – and won’t – eat that food. I’ve been using this strategy a lot and it’s a powerful tool.

The next cognitive strategy builds on that one. Not only can we rationalize ourselves into refusing to obey the trigger we can learn to change our response to the trigger altogether!

As long as we accept that food as a reward our brains will always drive us towards it. That’s how the brain works, that’s how we survive. But what if that food was not a reward at all? Then the cycle is broken, and we are no longer conditioned to overeat!

Now, food is a primary reinforcer, meaning we are hard-wired to be rewarded by food in order to aid in our survival.  But we can choose what foods we are rewarded by. And we can introduce other rewards as well.

This is done by taking control of your thoughts around those foods.

Here’s an example: I really want that ice-cream…BUT, I am not going to have it, because I don’t want diabetes. Ice-cream is not a reward, because it’s bad for me, and makes me unhappy with myself. I feel awful after I eat the ice-cream. I’m going to have some grapes instead. They’re refreshing, and my body will appreciate the antioxidants. I’ll increase my chances of living longer and having fewer diseases!

By changing how we see foods high in sugar, fat and salt, identifying them as disgusting and harmful, we lessen their power as a reward. By learning to truly see those foods as enemies, by reminding ourselves of the horrible consequences those foods can have, we can help our brains recognize that these foods are not rewards, at all.

Then we can choose the rewards we want to have dominate our lives.

We can imagine the money we once put into fast food going into yoga classes, clothes we enjoy wearing, or massages. We can see ourselves putting money once spent on “treats” towards a cruise, or tuition for school.

It takes a little time but the more we work on breaking the cycle the weaker the cycle gets. Eventually the triggers lessen and the urge becomes something we can dismiss with relative ease. We see ourselves as one of those people we used to admire. The ones who just seem blissfully unaware of the cake and cookies on the staff-room table.

This strategy is meant to be a long-term cognitive shift that will serve us well, as long as we are diligent and don’t start seeing those foods as friendly, rewarding foods again. It doesn’t mean we can never have ice-cream, but given time we can do so with control.

And isn’t that what we wanted all along?

Sugar Detoxing

It’s been almost 4 years since I had weight loss surgery. Up until last fall I’d stayed stable with my new low weight and was becoming more relaxed about my eating plan. I felt invincible. I believed I could eat anything I wanted – as long as I was careful about portions and didn’t stop weighing myself regularly.

I’ve never believed the hype that after weight loss surgery you can eat anything you want and never gain weight. And yet, I believed you could eat anything, as long as you were careful, and didn’t have an eating disorder. Yes, I felt I could be the exception, because I was smart.

Slowly carbs and sweet treats crept back in to my daily routine. Slowly the scale crept up and I was close to being 10 lbs heavier. That’s considerable when you have such a petite frame. But I wasn’t too concerned. Arrogantly I believed I had this easily under control and set out to drop those lbs back off. I’d reached a magic number on the scale that I was determined never to cross again.

Without much concern I got back on track and eagerly looked to the scale to see it drop right back again, as I expected it would do.

Nothing happened.

I dropped calories to an almost unhealthy level but nothing budged. After a few months of frustration I followed a suggestion from my partner and brought my calories up a bit but went to work on eliminating excess salt. He’d noticed that salty munchies were an evening weakness of mine.

Four lbs drained away as water weight. Then the stall returned.

Frustration gave away to confusion, anger and then a feeling of defeat. Was my weight going to creep right back up while I was helpless to stop it? Was I doomed to return to a level of obesity that was dangerous for me? Was diabetes and high blood pressure just waiting around the corner? I was struck with a feeling of constant nausea. I was becoming obsessed about the scale, logging every bite I ate, trying to stay under 1,000 calories. My partner was beginning to worry that I was edging toward an eating disorder.

After reading Dr. Kesslers book on the obesity epidemic, and watching the documentary  Sugar Coated I decided it was time to try a little detoxing. I had been underestimating – as most of us do – the amount of sugar I was eating, and not aware that the extra sugar was being turned into fat I couldn’t see. Fat that settled on internal organs.

I learned that we can be fat on the inside and look perfectly slim. I learned that hidden sugars were everywhere. I learned that I needed a detox!

Detoxing from sugar can be just as tough as quitting smoking or cutting out caffeine cold turkey. The withdrawal symptoms are not pretty. I decided a slow drop would be an easier way to go.

The first day I kept obsessing over sweet treats. My attention would wander to the fridge constantly as I mentally searched for chocolate that wasn’t there. I felt that familiar crankiness and deprivation that sets in whenever your mind realizes you’re on a diet. A lifetime of yo-yo dieting came back to me. But I was so curious to see if it would work. I kept telling myself I’d try it for just a few days.

(This is a trick I’ve employed many times. It can help me get over the first few days of a habit change. I know that it does get easier, and I’ve learned to focus on that.)

A little sugar is withdrawn every day and with each day it has become easier.

It’s only been a few days but a few stubborn lbs have melted away, and my energy levels are rising. Each day I bump up my efforts to get my sugar intake lower. I’m optimistic that this is the answer to bring me back to my healthiest weight.

There are many articles out there on detoxing from sugar. There are countless meal plans from the cold turkey – don’t even eat fruit – type, to ones aimed at helping you make this transition as comfortable as possible, evolving into a long-term healthy lifestyle change. How you choose to detox is less important in my opinion than taking on only what you can comfortably handle and maintain.

You can run, or you can walk, you’ll still get there as long as you don’t lose your motivation. Some of us prefer to sprint, some of us do better taking baby steps. Set reasonable goals, reward yourself with positive thoughts, and enlist your loved ones for support and accountability.

I know it can be done. I’m not giving up. And if a sugar detox is in your future, I wish you luck, too!

 

 

 

Return To Blogging

When I began this blog I had a few ideas of what I wanted to focus on, but my main passion at the time was photography. Over the last few years, blogging took a back seat while I explored an option to do something that has always defined a large core of my personality: helping people.

In 2013 I attended the Rhodes College in Vancouver, BC, and discovered a passion for life coaching. As part of preparing myself to walk the walk I had weight loss surgery during my time at Rhodes, and shed the extra pounds that had plagued me for almost my entire life. By tackling my biggest health issue I was able to create a better life for myself, and for my partner, R. I was able to face the world with greater confidence.

As I became more physically active I began the spend far less time at a computer, and this blog began to grow virtual-dust.

Time to resuscitate As I See It, and give it new life.

There will be multiple focuses to this site from here on, a mixture of photography and life coaching, with a sprinkle of  the odd side dish surprise.

Please check in often!