Sunday, September 01, 2013
It's been almost five months since I've eaten sweets or desserts. More amazingly, I no longer want them.
I work in an environment in which treats are provided by coworkers if not daily, then at least a couple of times of week. Before abstaining, cravings for these treats interfered with my concentration and consumed my thoughts. In effect, the treats called to me all day long.
The dialog in my head BEFORE: Oh look. Cookies! But I'm not going to have one. (Pause.) You know you want one. Come on...just have one. You know you want it. Eat one...eat one...EAT ONE! Just one. You know you want one.
Of course, I couldn't ignore the cravings for a full 10-hour shift and would have one. And then another. And another.
The dialog in my head NOW: Oh look. Cookies. Do you want one? No (WOW!), no I don't want one.
Three seconds later, I've forgotten they are even sitting on the counter. Life for me is so much easier when my thoughts aren't constantly consumed by cravings. It is a tremendous incentive for me to continue abstaining from sweets and treats.
I know there continues to be a great debate about whether or not people should eliminate certain categories of food from their food repertoire, but for some of us whose thoughts and cravings for those foods interfere with daily activities, I think it is a necessity.
It wasn't easy getting to where I am now. The first two weeks were awful. But after that, it seemed to get easier every day. When I think about dessert now, I know that it would taste good (even great), but I truly don't want it. So I don't have it. It is not worth the risk of awakening the cravings I've put to rest. Fortunately, sweets and desserts don't provide essential nutrients, so I'm not risking my health. If anything, I'm emotionally (as well as physically) healthier than I've ever been.
I've tried to eliminate sweets in the past. I thought I could have a dessert once a month and be OK. Once a month turned into once a week, which turned into once a day, which turned into cravings after each meal and all day long.
For some of us, just one bite DOES matter.
Sunday, June 23, 2013
Nearly every summer, my husband, sons, and I vacation at a cabin on a lake in northern Wisconsin. Often, we will spend several summers in a row at the same cabin. Lately, it has been at Big Pine. Our activities are pretty much the same every year: fishing, eating, sleeping, eating, hiking, eating, kayaking, eating, fishing, eating…
Although, by necessity, I have almost always eaten a healthier diet than my husband and sons, I have in the past often indulged on these cabin vacations. We tend to pack and bring many of the foods that we don’t consume on a daily basis at home, such as chips, cookies, hot dogs, bacon, candy, soda, etc. At some point, a cabin vacation became synonymous with a vacation from self-restraint.
I suspected that maintaining a healthy diet this year might be problematic for me, so I planned ahead. I prepared and packed many of the healthier options I prefer to eat at home. I packed lots of fruits and vegetables. I packed popcorn and mixed nuts and pumpkin seed snack mix (which, minus the dried cherries and salt, is a SparkPeople recipe I highly recommend) and yogurt and cottage cheese. I packed chicken and salmon and quinoa salad and hard-boiled eggs. I felt prepared.
Imagine my surprise when, as we pulled up to the cabin and opened the van doors, I was hit by the urge to eat…and I don’t mean the healthy stuff. At home, over the past couple of months, I thought I had successfully put nearly all my cravings to rest. I’m disappointed to find that those cravings are alive and well; it took only the memory of past years to bring them to the surface. This year, I’m resolved to creating new memories. I will forever associate vacation with indulgence unless I put a stop to it. Now. Thus far, I’ve resisted the snacks my teenage sons are devouring, the smell of frying bacon, and the lure of a sweet treat (“just this once…”)
As I write this, I am sitting on a dock under a cloudless sky listening to waves beat against the bottom of an aluminum boat. There is no boat traffic (nor internet access or phone reception). I have seen a bald eagle soaring and have heard the cry of the loons. Vacationing is not about eating. I refuse to let it be.
Sunday, June 09, 2013
Yesterday we hosted a graduation party for our older son. It was an intimate family and friends affair held outside on a beautiful afternoon.
A question drifted my way. "Have you gained any weight back yet?" The question was posed by my mother, rather loudly and from a distance. Silence ensued. I might have taken offense, but my mother was privy to some information that our other guests were not. I responded, "No, and I don't plan to."
Two months ago, my weight loss began with a medical crisis: I was diagnosed with an ovarian mass. It was removed a week later, and fortunately, it was benign. Between receiving the initial diagnosis and the final pathology, my body went into panic mode, and I lost 10 pounds in 10 days. After learning the good news, I decided to take advantage of the jump start in weight loss. It would only take another few pounds to get back to a "normal", healthy BMI.
I am not new to weight loss. I've had 30 years of practice, and I know what works for me. Unfortunately, I sometimes lose focus and the pounds creep back on with stealth. A year ago, I started running intervals on my treadmill with a goal of running 4 miles in 40 minutes. I hadn't yet attained that goal...and still haven't. Currently, I'm at 3.8+ miles in 45 minutes. (I was able to get back on the treadmill five days after surgery with my doctor's approval.)
I had also already been eating mini-meals every three hours, five or six times a day. To lose the extra few pounds, I just made a few minor adjustments. First, I made the exercise a bit more consistent, throwing in some walks and some outdoor running now that the weather is more cooperative. Second, I cleaned up my meals a bit. I eat only five times a day, and the food is healthier.
These changes resulted in a total weight loss of 19 pounds in less than eight weeks (from 151 pounds in the emergency room to 132 pounds today). My mom's question was innocent concern that there really is something wrong with me that I'm not sharing with her. My weight loss was quick, and in some ways, less than healthy, but in the end, it was intended.
The silence that followed my mom's question, however, gave me pause. I think people may have been surprised that someone would dare to even voice that question. Yet, everyone thinks it when someone loses a noticeable amount of weight...and everyone wants to know the answer. The odds and statistics go against successful weight loss maintenance. My own experience has taught me how difficult it is to maintain a weight loss.
Have I gained any weight back yet? No, and I don't intend to. I'm buying new clothes, one to two sizes smaller than my previous wardrobe...and I don't even know if I'm done losing weight yet. I'm going to continue with what seems to be working for me and see what happens.
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