Friday, May 29, 2015

30 Days Challenge: Day Four

Day Four, so far so (pretty good). I didn’t have any of the office cake at the latest farewell, and I also successfully avoided the bagels and muffins in the kitchen this morning. I haven’t been at 100% like I’d like - I did have a little candy from the bowl - but overall I’ve faithfully followed my eating plan, packing salads for lunch and avoiding snacking. I know that a piece of candy is far from the end of the world, and far from derailing a diet, but the point of this was to be stricter, knowing that it was just for 30 days, so I’m going to keep working on that part. But the big picture is looking good.

Tonight, of course, starts the weekend, when I’m the worst at eating. Maybe it’s the free time, or lack of structure, or just that there’s bigger chance of there being lots of food around in a way I’m not able to control like I can during the week. I have my plan - to give myself a reasonable calorie allotment for the meal - and if that doesn’t help, I’ll think of a new strategy. However, I do think that just being mindful of what and how much I’m eating can help me stay on track.

I’m going to try to post here more over the next month, because I naval-grazingly want to keep track of how well I do, and these posts will be the only “data” I have to work with. I’m not tracking, so I can’t go back to my food diaries and (over)analyze what and how much I ate.

It’s feels odd not to track my food. For the last year, if I haven't been tracking, then it's because I've been eating like crap. I am weighing and measuring everything that I eat, just not tracking it. Instead, with this new plan, I know that I can have 1/4-1/3 pound of lean ground beef, and then 1/2-1 cup of black beans, etc, and that it all works out to a good calorie deficit for the day. It's like I've pretracked the whole month.

On the one hand, tracking forces me to remember that piece or bite or bit of whatever. On the other hand, I want to get into the mentality that I shouldn’t be having those little things because I can’t track it, because I could easily forget about it and have another bit a few hours later. The only accountability is in my own mind.

Is it weird that I really like doing stuff like this, that I like giving myself little challenges with food plans? Does that make my weight loss more or less sustainable? I have no idea, but I do think it keeps me going.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Highly Exciting: The Next Thirty Days

Have you ever wished that someone would take the thought out of dieting for you? That’s the idea behind multi-million dollar programs like Jenny Craig. Simple: Just eat their food, don’t eat anything else, and you’ll lose weight. Except that you never learn how to actually eat right or how to live in the real world.

Let’s get real here. I did not eat well over the weekend, much like the last few weekends have also been. This morning I was in at 175 even, so at least five or six pounds UP. Some is bloat but some is unfortunately just gained weight. Yuck.

By about a foot.

I don't think buying all diet food is worth the cost. However, I’d like to take the thought out of losing weight, just a little bit, and just for a little while. To (for most of the time) not worry about choices. Food has been such a huge focus for so long, and not in a good way - I’m either doing great, losing weight, and spending a lot of time and energy on it, or I’m eating terribly, and still spending a lot of time and energy on it.

I am stopping starting today (well technically yesterday this point), this morning. For the next 30 days I'm going on a more restricted diet. Take away the choice and the thought. I'm also putting the scale away so I'm not focusing on my weight. These next 30 days will be hard, but  I’ll do it because I know it's temporary and also because I'm at my wits end and need to go to the other extreme. After the 30 days, I’ll decide what's next. My plan is healthy - plenty of calories, veggies, fat, etc -it's just not sustainable because it's so limiting. That’s okay, I don’t need it to be long term. What I do need is a short term plan that will let me lose a bit of weight without having to focus so much on food.

So, the plan: I’ll give myself two options for breakfast, two for lunch and two for dinner. These choices will be things that I’ve eaten over and over again and still enjoy. Coffee with breakfast, always. Then oatmeal or Greek yogurt with honey. A lettuce/random veggies salad for lunch, with either beans, feta cheese, and a salsa dressing, OR with ground turkey and beans. Dinner will always have a veggie, and then be either flatbread pizza or two all beef hot dogs on whole wheat bread. Alternate is a frozen Amy’s entree. If I’m feeling genuinely hungry, I’ll have an apple and/or a glass of milk for a snack. Most importantly - no junk food, lots of vegetables, and little to no snacking.

Hot dogs as part of a diet? Yes. I know these are not all ideal options in terms of processing or sodium level, but they are meals that are really simple, easy, and keep me full. I’ll be adding veggies so it’s not quite the dinner plans of an eleven-year-old. Overall, I’d like to give this plan a chance, at least a week, before making adjustments to portions sizes or food choices.

This plan, this making decisions now about food so that I don’t have to later, won’t work 100% of the time. I’m not going to turn down having dinner with friends, or go to a restaurant and request that they cook me a hot dog and some broccoli. So, my plan for those times, maybe one or two meals a week, is to set a high but not insane calorie limit, and just stay within that. As long as it’s not more than a couple of meals, I should still have a good calorie deficit for the week.

I can't wait until I'm feeling motivated or inspired because who knows when that will happen? Right now I just feel determined. I need to start. I need to start somewhere, even if I know it doesn’t make sense in the long term.

Day one, May 26. Day 30, June 25.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Self-Sabotage and "Deserving" to Lose Weight

After I posted last week, I was feeling great. The next four or five days I was wonderfully on track - I ate well, went to the gym, and overall felt in control. No office cake for this lady!

Then I screwed up yet again over the weekend, and I’ve been trying to get back ever since. Are you as sick of reading about this as I am of feeling this way?

Maybe it’s the Psych major talking, but I spend a lot of time analyzing my emotions. In this case, my overeating was systematic and deliberate. It was almost that I was actually making sure I wasn’t eating well. Why the self-sabotage?

Maybe I don’t think I deserve to lose this weight - to be healthy, to look better and feel better. That would be a self-esteem issue. Or maybe there’s a part of me that seriously doubts my ability to actually lose the weight and, more importantly, keep it off. So that part of me, in its infinite wisdom, is willing me to give up before I start, so I don’t waste all this time and energy. That one also mostly comes down to self-esteem.

Whether it’s one of those reasons, or some other deep-seeded psychological issues that will only be revealed under deep hypnosis, the end result is that I’m still really struggling. My goal at this point is to just not go crazy. Last month when I was also struggling, my goal was just to not go backwards, and I was able to do that. I need to keep that up now, and to remember that I do deserve this. Everyone deserves to be healthy, including me. I just have to earn it.

This weekend is yet another Jewish holiday, ones that ostentatiously revolves around cheesecake and blintzes (don’t ask). I will probably be surrounded by food from Friday night through Monday night, but not be able to track or go to the gym. Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Based on how much I’m dreading the food part of this holiday, I think I’ve lost a lot of faith in myself. The faith that I can be in this for the long term, that I can beat the appallingly bad statistics on successful weight loss and maintenance, is quite fucking important. It what makes you keep going after you make a mistake.

I have no plan for the holiday, honestly. I have told the husband that I’m not in a good state of mind, food-wise, and he should be aware of that so he can gently ask me if I actually want that [calorie bomb]. John’s also very useful in meals - if I take a piece of bread without thinking, and then realize or decide that I don’t want it, I can pass it to him. He’s a slim guy with a big appetite. This is helpful because I can change my mind about food without trying to awkwardly put it back, or feel like I’m wasting it.

However, after this holiday, when the time is mine again and the weather continues to be lovely, I am going to take a hard, honest look at myself. I need to make progress again, for my sanity as well as my health. I’m considering doing a Whole30 or some other short term limiting diet. Going to one extreme for a little while can help to find a balance. I am usually willing to try any reasonable meal plan, as long as I don’t have to buy any special products. But the bottom line is that I need to refocus, and also actually work on my relationship with food. 

Healthy people don’t eat cake because of weird psychological reasons that they need to analyze, but just because cake is delicious. I’d like to be one of them.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Weekly Weigh In - Getting Off the Blah Train

This week’s stats:

Lbs. Fat82.772.570.867.165.360.360.861.363.460.9
Lbs. Muscle 67.366.867.363.964.461.561.5656464.2

So fat is way down while muscle mass maintained. Good numbers, considering. I don’t know how much of the net gain is actual weight from my time overeating, and how much is bloat, but either way I’d like it to go away.

Sunday was Mother’s Day. My mom is the best, and my siblings and I planned to make a big homemade dinner with my parents and grandparents to celebrate. Since she loves Italian, we decided to make soup, pizza with fun toppings, and some veggies. Also, mojitos because those are the best.

I’ve kept up my baking hiatus in general, and I know that making vegetables instead of desserts for social gatherings has probably saved me approximately 24329 calories in “I have to eat one to make sure it’s good.”

The siren song of miniature chocolates

But for some reason my brain went out the window and I was all, “I’m going to make lava cakes for dessert! And we’ll get some fancy $14-a-pint Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream to go with it!” My plan to not go overboard was “Don’t go overboard.”

"We need a plan of attack!"

Fail. Why do I keep doing that? Why do I forget that I need planning, and rules, or I’ll just snack/taste throughout the day and not really realize how much I must have consumed until it’s hours later? I picked at the chocolate chips, and split a “test” pizza with my brother and sister. (We used this recipe for pizza dough; it was amazing.)

I have my go-to rules - no snacking and no seconds. I wish I had just stuck to that. One small lava cake at dinner, even adding ice cream to make a 400-calorie dessert, could have been a nice treat that was part of a wonderful celebration of my mother and grandmother. Instead, I compounded that with at least three servings of chocolate chips and tastes of batter. I need to be more mindful of situations like that - I seem to be super mindful after it happens, of course. But that’s not really even mindfulness, that’s just acknowledging my mistakes. Mindfulness has to come before the food to count and to accomplish anything.

I want to start making progress again, not just stagnant at this awesome but insufficient thirty pound loss. I think a great way to do this is focus on small things, and also to remind myself of the good things I am doing, even if and when I’m not perfect. I’m still going to the gym consistently, I am doing well in not being in denial over how many calories or how much I ate, and most importantly, I’m still trying, still caring, and still pushing myself to do better.

Goals for this Week:

  • Track all food and drinks, no matter what
  • Go to the gym at least three more times before Sunday, ideally four
  • Remember that the delicious chocolate in the office candy bowl is the result of horrible human conditions and mass environmental destruction and I don’t want it
  • Don’t have cake at the office farewell on Thursday
    • This is actually the first “farewell” we’ve had in at least six months. Back when we had a whole slew of farewell cakes, I got used to just not having any and not caring that I wasn’t. I know that it’s not worth it, cake is not something that excites me, so I just need to do that.

What are your strategies for being healthy or healthier this week?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Meaning of Failure

So if it’s not obvious, I’m feeling a bit blah. At first it was because it felt like the scale wasn’t moving the way it should. Then I think I let last month’s holiday slip me up, and I’ve been, it seems, coasting ever since. My total weight loss for April is, according to the calories, less than a pound. Maybe not so bad considering the holidays, but… no. This past weigh in had me at 172.4. Somehow when I hopped on after a few lousy days, I had this idea in my head that it would be right back at 200. Even though rationally I know that I won’t gain 30 pounds in a week, no matter how badly I eat, a few days or weeks off can still leave me feeling like I “deserve” to gain it all back.

You know how they say that on the days you really, really don’t want to go the gym, when all you want is to lie in bed without pants, watching Netflix and order some kind of greasy takeout, that that’s the time you need the gym most? Or that when you least want to talk about something, it’s when you really should be talking?

That’s me right now. I don’t really want to talk about how I’m struggling, how I’ve been struggling and often failing at eating well over the last couple of weeks. How I’ve had a couple of days where I eat great during the day, proudly bypass the cookies at work, and then end up buying a brownie while grocery shopping and eating it in the kitchen as soon as I get home. It’s almost an interesting psychological process. As I’m eating, I’m thinking, “Hmm, this is really not in line with my weight loss goals. This is like 500 calories of butter. Am I actually enjoying this? Why am I eating this? I should probably stop eating this.” It’s not a mean or yelling voice, more of a soft one that’s asking these questions in a vaguely curious tone of voice.

Rather, I just want to stop struggling somehow. But I don’t think that’s how things happen.

But maybe I do need to talk about, to express the frustration at myself when I do things (or more specifically, eat things), that are directly contrary to my long-term goals.  I’m at this weird stage where I’ve come so far, but I still have so far to go. I’m reminded of that when my fall coat from two years and twenty pounds ago doesn’t fit right, when I see a photo of myself that’s so much better than one from a few years ago, but still so far from where I want to be.

This stage is also, I know, a turning point for me. How many times in my life have I slowed, then stopped my weight loss efforts after those first 20-30 pounds? Too many. It’s terrifyingly easy to give up, to stop spending so much time and energy on this. Even though I love the idea of not having weight loss be this focus in my life, I know that will end with me digging out my old 16s.

Someone noticed I hadn’t posted in a while and emailed me about starting over and having another “day one.” I thanked them for thinking of me, but told them that I don’t - I can’t - think of these last couple of weeks as failures that require “starting over” now. This is one long effort, one long weight loss process that is, in fact, so long that it can have full weeks of failure. The last couple of sucky weeks are just part of it.

During this time, John’s been watching me mope around, and listened as I lamented the latest cookie or was as proud of not eating a cookie as a person might be at passing the bar. He told me that even if I gain during this period, it’s better than giving up and not caring. Basically, anything is better than giving up. Giving up would mean that I have failed, while trying and failing, or, hell, not trying but still caring, means that I’m still trying. Still going to the gym after the cookie is trying.

In case you missed it above, these are the latest stats:

Lbs. Fat82.772.570.867.165.366.560.360.858.861.363.4
Lbs. Muscle 67.366.867.363.964.468.261.561.562.76564

So day 300 of infinitely, let’s go.