Saturday, May 12, 2012
The weight loss clinic that I go to has the patients go through kind of a cognitive-behavioral component, where you examine your relationship with food. This week, I'm supposed to journal about emotional eating. Beware, this is a deep and unexplored territory for me, so this is probably going to be long. So here goes...
--One of the factors that I know makes me overeat is when I am worried that food is going to run out. I am always the first in line at a buffet, I take more than my share if food is left out for a group, like a treat in the faculty lounge, and I am constantly worried that restaurants will run out of my favorite dish (ridiculous, I know) or I won't get my fair share at a pot luck. I also get nervous when I'm going out and don't have food with me; I always try to keep some food in my car or my purse (and not good food, either--chips and candy bars for "just in case.") There's no rational reason why I'm afraid of scarcity; I was raised in a middle to upper class home, with plenty of food. A psychologist looking at this might point to the fact that I'm the youngest of seven, and as the little runt I was probably always trying to make sure I didn't get squeezed out. But that isn't really true, because most of my siblings were much older than I am and not even around when I was growing up, and there was plenty of food around (too much, in fact).
So, why this fear of food running out? I think I remember being a little kid and going into "food crisis" mood when I went several hours without eating; I'd get weak and shaky. My mom started carrying food around for me, especially when we went on trips, but she'd have to sneak it to me, because my dad thought I was being ridiculous--he's ex-army and liked to "pound, pound, pound" in his words--cover a lot of ground, not stop to eat, that kind of thing.
One thing I have to ask myself is, what would be the worst thing to have happen if I didn't have food with me? One of the books I'm reading suggests purposely going long stretches of time without food so that you can feel what REAL hunger feels like, since for so many overweight people, at the slightest sign of a little hunger pang we panic. I think that was true for me. It turns out it's not the worst thing in the world to get hungry, and I'm not going to keel over from it. Going this long on such a restricted diet should be teaching me that.
I was at a pot luck party recently, and of course my natural instinct would have been to pile up my plate right away so that I didn't miss out on anything. I wasn't going to eat anything then, though, so I had the opportunity to watch how other people behaved. Most people got to the party and sat around and talked for up to an hour before they even took any food! I couldn't believe it! The food sat untouched for at least 1/2 an hour, until a very overweight woman came and immediately headed for the food (that would have been me). She tried mostly everything, and went back for seconds and thirds and then continued grazing throughout the rest of the evening. I had my eye on her, because again that would have been me. She kept commenting on how good the food was and asking for recipes and you could tell the food was a big part of her experience at the party. The thin people didn't start to eat for a long time, when they did they took one plate, usually with only one or two foods on it instead of sampling everything, and then they were DONE! I couldn't believe it. They just stopped. You could tell that the experience itself--being there with friends--was the purpose of the party, instead of the food. Very interesting.
--I eat for comfort, because it brings me happiness. Two aspects to this: one is when I'm out and the other is when I'm in. When I'm out, I (used to) go out of my way to make stops that would incorporate food, and I would look forward to these outings. So if a friend wanted to get together, of course I would suggest going for dinner instead of a walk. Or if I needed to do grading, I do it at my favorite deli, where I could go back to get several different dishes throughout the 3-4 hour session. Or if I had to get gas, I'd stop at a convenience store where I could get a candy bar. Or if I was going to a movie, I'd look forward to the popcorn for hours beforehand. In this way, food both cushions the blow of having to do something unpleasant (grading) and enhances something that's already enjoyable (being with friends). It's amazing how I could work food into just about any trip out--taking my daughter to an early hockey practice meant stopping at McDonald's for an Egg McMuffin, going to a faculty meeting on another campus meant stopping at Dairy Queen on the way. These were my rituals, and I would look forward to them and plan my days around them. The ANTICIPATION of food was almost as good as the food itself.
When I stay in, I'd use food, too. Then, it was a comfort and a coziness. I'm someone who likes to be covered up and cozy. I usually have a blanket wrapped around me, I don't go anywhere without socks on, and I love soft, fuzzy fabrics. I think of food as being kind of like that. Watching a movie means finishing off a pint of Ben and Jerry's, a morning reading the paper means crepes, and a weekend at the cabin means I'm cooking all weekend (out of joy and love): blueberry muffins, asparagus and tomato frittata, and blueberry pancakes for breakfast; bruschetta, caprese salad, and open faced mozzarella sandwiches for lunch; and capellini pomodoro, , hot artichoke parmesan dip, garden risotto, and orzo with tomatoes and basil for dinner, with homemade ice cream every night. I love to cook--the process of it is very calming to me--but I also love to eat, because it's so synonymous to me of home, comfort, and coziness. A perfect weekend to me would be one spent at the cabin cooking and eating and curling up by the fire reading (and eating ice cream!)
It will be a very different world in which I don't plan trips out to include stopping for food, and when staying in doesn't not revolve around food. I guess I'm going to have to find other things to do with my time. But a weekend at the cabin that doesn't involve me cooking periodically throughout the day and us spending huge amounts of time eating feels very antiseptic and cold. Interesting.
--The legacy of my parents' attitudes toward food: first, my mother. I usually double or triple recipes because I'm worried that there won't be enough. This relates to the first point about being worried that I'll run out of food, but it also relates to the idea that food is love. My mom also always made tons and tons of food. She struggled with her weight her whole life, and I remember when I was in high school her saying to me, "When I was your age I weighed 115 pounds and I'm taller than you are." Needless to say, I didn't weigh 115 pounds when she said that to me. That sounds awful, but she really wasn't like some mothers who are competitive with their daughters over weight. But she had her own struggles, and she did a lot of yo-yoing. She had pretty crazy eating habits, that included cooking for the kids and then barely eating it, but then staying up late at night and grilling herself a steak or eating ice cream. She rarely exercised, either. But for her, food was love, so she'd make lots and lots of food, and the worst possible thing would have been if someone had left her table hungry or empty-handed. In fact, this was such a thing with her that it ended up in her obituary, and people at her memorial service mentioned the abundance of her table. She was a very generous person--you had to be careful not to say you liked something she was wearing, or she'd take it off and give it to you (literally!). And for her, food was love. I know I definitely got that from her.
On the other hand, when my dad was 38 (when I was 5), he lost about 150 pounds, and he has been one of those few who have kept it off. He eats a huge salad every night (and I do mean huge--it weighs about 10 pounds and he eats it out of a bowl that's enormous, like one of those huge, oversized popcorn bowls for a big group of people). He puts no dressing on it, and he eats no butter on his bread and basically almost no fat at all. When we go to restaurants, all he'll order is two salads without dressing and some dry toast and he'll tell the waiter that if they put butter on it and he eats it he'll end up flopping on the floor in a fit of convulsions (not true, obviously, but my dad's a character and that's what it takes to get servers to remember not to butter the bread, apparently). He often walks around with carrots sticking out of his breast pocket and he munches on veggies all day long. He believes in huge quantities but of low-or non-fat foods. He never eats sweets, and he will often make comments even now (and even more frequently when I was younger) like, "So, how many fat grams do you think is in that?" or he'll not-so-surreptitiously examine the labels of my foods and say, "Do you know how many of your daily fat grams this represents?" He's a real evangelist for Covert Bailey's Fit or Fat program. He also works out two hours a day--an hour of exercise biking in the morning, until he's all sweaty and gross (I remember having friends sleep over when I was a kid and how embarrassing it was when he'd come up from working out with his shirt off and with his heart rate monitor and sweat was dripping off him) and then an hour-long walk in the evening. He'd often try to guilt me into working out or coming on a walk with him. One of his favorite phrases was: "You can weigh within 1 to 2 pounds of any reasonable weight you want to weigh. You only have to decide that you want to do it." It's true, in the sense that he weighs about 150 pounds and has for the last 40 years (he's in his late 70s now). He has kept up the same food and exercise regimen that whole time, and he never varies it, never takes a day off (except when he's sick--but even on vacation he follows the routine and won't stay in a hotel without a fitness center). He's 100% disciplined, which obviously isn't the case for most people. I should say that my dad is one of the most fit people I know, he looks like he's under 60, he has a resting pulse rate of about 40 and his doctor says he's in better shape than almost all his other patients, so obviously he's doing something right!
So...lesson here being that you can see how I came to my all-or-nothing approach to food! My role models have definitely modeled that, both my mom who did it on a regular basis with her yo-yo dieting, overabundant food and then starvation diets and my dad with his extreme overweight-to-extreme fitness and an impossible model to live up to. Where was the moderation? Nowhere to be seen, that's for sure. I think that plays into my emotional eating, because in the past, when I've started losing weight, if it didn't go well or if I stumbled I would often throw in the towel and say, "Well, I screwed up. It's over. I might as well quit." Or if I got close to my goal but not all the way there, I'd say, "Well, it's no use, I can't get to 130 anyway" (and, interestingly, I'd berate myself subconsciously for 130 being so far from the "perfect" 115, that why even bother). Or, once I got fat, I'd say to myself, "Well, all hope is lost. I'm a fat person now, so I might as well enjoy it. I'm going to eat whatever I want."
A big part of my maintenance, I think, will be examining these attitudes and developing sane messages to counter them. I know I'm going to need to embrace moderation, although I think I'll also just have to cut out things that I know are such trigger foods that I just can't be moderate about them. And I'll have to find ways to make my life revolve around more than food. If you'd asked me two months ago what the most important thing in my life was besides my family, I definitely would have said food. It certainly was my most satisfying, constant, important source of pleasure. That's got to change. That's what I've realized from writing this, but what I don't know is how to change it. At least not yet.
Monday, May 07, 2012
So in my program, we get weekly homework assignments. This week's was about emotional eating. First, we're supposed to examine all our trigger foods, foods that once we start eating we have a hard time stopping. Then figure out what the common thread is among them and how we feel when we get triggered by them. Then we're supposed to look into the emotional component of eating, and when we're doing emotional eating, when/where/why we do it.
That's a tall order, so I'm just going to start by listing my trigger foods (I hope I don't trigger a binge for anyone reading it--read with caution!)
--Pasta, especially penne with cherry tomatoes topped with mozzarella cheese, veggie lasagna, manicotti, Pasta Fresca from Noodles, and Capellini Pomodoro from Olive Garden.
--Speaking of Olive Garden, bread! Especially buttery breadsticks (like from Olive garden) ciabatta rolls (from Noodles), french bread, cinnamon raisin bread, olive bread, apricot/date bread, popovers, bagels, etc.
--Appetizers, including bruschetta (the double tomato kind I make), Caprese salad with fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil, artichoke/cheese dip, deviled eggs, spinach dip, nachos, etc.
--Chips, especially cheetos, cheese puffs, lays sour cream and onion potato chips, smartfood popcorn, fritos, and doritos
--anything chocolate, including brownies, brownie bites, chocolate bars (especially the really good kind, like Choco Love), Aero bars, chocolate chip cookies, French Silk Pie, Chocolate cheesecake, chocolate pudding, Oreos, oreo pie, etc.
--Ice cream, including Dairy Queen blizzards, Ben and Jerry's, Haagen Daas, oreo ice cream, chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, ice cream sandwiches and Klondike bars.
--Certain fast food, including Hogan Brothers hoagie sandwiches, Davanni's cheese subs, Subway cheese subs, Macdonald's egg mcmuffins, Macdonald's french fries (well, french fries in general) and Breugger's bagel's Leonardo Diveggie sandwiches.
Hmmm...I wonder where I'd be now if I'd never eaten any of these foods, if they just didn't exist for me? My husband is not food-motivated at all, just doesn't really care for food and eating is a bother. There's nothing that he eats that he really loves, nothing he looks forward to or really enjoys. He could eat any of the foods on this list and kind of take it or leave it. Will it ever be possible for me to be that way? Do I just need to avoid these? I know, I know--everything in moderation. But what if you can't do moderation with some foods? Refuse to Regain says not to be moderate, to be severe in order to keep the weight off. Looking forward to that maintenance time, I wonder if I just need to create a list like this of foods I'm not going to eat for the first 6 months or so? If I don't, and I start eating these, I bet I'll end up right back where I started, and I don't want to be there. Oink, Oink!
Sunday, May 06, 2012
I've been reading through Beck a bit quicker than one day per day, since I'm already 6 weeks into my weight loss program. But I wanted to at least comment on each one of the items and how I'm incorporating it into my life.
Day 2: Pick two reasonable diets: This day was easy for me, because I've already picked one diet (New Direction) that's working well for me. I suppose Weight Watchers would be my backup, but so far this plan is working really well and I feel no temptation to alter it.
Day 3: Eat Sitting Down: This is the first of several items on the list that doesn't really apply to me right now because I'm not eating "real" food. I suppose I should still sit down to eat each of my shakes, but I feel like the real purpose of this step is to encourage people not to snack between meals, which I can't while I'm on this plan. This will be an important part of maintenance for me.
Day 4: Give yourself credit: I'm definitely working on incorporating this one into my life. My last blog post was about what's going well, so I won't go over that ground again, but in general I can be proud that I haven't gone off plan yet (almost 6 weeks now), I'm working out 5-6 times a week, and I've completely rearranged my life to focus on fitness and health. The question isn't whether I will reach my goal, but just how long it will take. I also have a lot more energy and optimism, and I'm only 2/7ths of the way through my journey so far. And I guess we should note that I've lost 20 lbs. Yea! So, yes, I should give myself credit--both here and throughout each and every day.
Day 5: Eat Slowly and Mindfully: Again, this is a step that doesn't really apply to me yet. I suppose I could savor each shake rather than just sucking them down (ok--I'll do that), but I think it would mean a lot more if I were eating real food. Note to self: revisit Beck throughout maintenance!
Day 6: Find a Diet Coach: This step was easy--my husband. We already have a weekly appointment, which we've been doing naturally: a check-in conversation after I come back from my weigh-in every week. He's really good at problem-solving with me, helping me find time to exercise, and getting everything set up in my life so that it's a priority.
Day 7: Arrange Your Environment: This was a bit tricky, but what I eventually discovered is that it's a lot easier for me not to eat if I'm not around food. If I'm preparing food for my kids and can smell it and see it--well, then I feel deprived and jealous and bitter. But if I'm just not around food, it doesn't cross my mind. So, I asked my husband to take over the cooking for the family for the next few months, and he agreed to do it. It's not easy, because he doesn't like cooking and doesn't find food enjoyable, so this is definitely a bother for him, especially coming up with food the kids will like. But he has been doing it, and I just excuse myself while he's cooking and/or they're eating. It means I miss out on some family time, but I think it's worth it for the next few months. Which leads me to...
Day 8: Create Time and Energy: Part of the reason why I didn't want to start dieting (and thus put it off for months and months) is that I remember how much it takes over my life. It's all I think about, want to talk about, etc. It's like I get total tunnel vision. How many times a day can I calculate when I'll get to goal? ("Let's see, if I lose an average of 3 pounds a week, that's 12 pounds a month, which means...."). In the shower, on my way to work, at lunch, in between classes...etc etc. etc. until I'm falling asleep at night. It isn't difficult to create time and energy because dieting always becomes an obsession for me that takes over my life. In this case, I've devoted the time that I used to spend cooking to being on Spark, as well as the time I used to use for computer games (goodbye, Bejeweled Blitz...) and some grading, now that the school year is winding down. The good news is that with the meal replacements I don't have to focus on counting calories, planning my meals, or tracking, so all that time that I usually spend can be dedicated to blogging, sparking, reading up (Beck and Refuse to Regain, so far) and focusing on the mental part of this whole life-change. And exercising, of course!
So, that's where I'm at with these steps. Plus, I'm working on a vision collage, which hasn't been part of the Beck process but was an idea I picked up on Spark and I'm really enjoying it. Thank goodness for the Title Nine catalog!
Saturday, May 05, 2012
On the plus side:
--When I stopped my run to let a woman pet my dog, she made a comment to me that started, "I'm a runner, too, and I..." I still can get over being referred to as "a runner."
--I went to the water park today with my kids. I wasn't happy about how I looked in my bathing suit, but I did it. Just being on the journey gives me more confidence and energy. Before, I would have just stayed on the side, watching.
--My shin splints didn't get any worse after I returned to running today.
--I took home a homemade chocolate chip cookie, chocolate chip blondie, and fudge brownie from school, all made my students and given to me. I wasn't even tempted to eat them. I gave each of my kids half a treat, which at least is sweets in moderation. Before, I would have eaten all three in about four bites.
--My size 18 jeans are fitting well; I'm not squeezing into them.
--I told my best friend about my weight loss. She's in great shape and a marathon runner, so weight struggles are not something we have in common. But she was very supportive and not judgmental about the liquid-diet thing, which I was nervous about.
--I'm working out 5-6 times a week. I'm being totally committed to it, and the only question each day is "when am I going to work out?" rather than "am I going to work out?" I think my heart rate is coming down more quickly and I'm not getting winded as quickly. My blood pressure has come down from 138/80 to 122/74 since I started.
--I started working on my vision collage. I'm not a crafty person, so putting it together will be a challenge, but it's fun doing it.
--I'm continuing to read Beck Diet Solution, though the steps I've been reading don't necessarily have written components. But I'm internalizing the logic and feel like I'm becoming more cognitively disciplined, including giving myself credit. This list is an example of that.
On the minus side:
--This weight loss is taking a long time (even though I know it's actually going VERY fast). I'm impatient. Somehow, it feels like I've been so committed and dedicated, I should be able to just snap my fingers and have this be DONE. I know that's not realistic or fair (it took a long time to put this weight on, I shouldn't be able to just blink it away). But somehow I just want to see results NOW already.
--I went to the used clothing store to pick out a new outfit for a school event, and I was disappointed to see that I'm still in 1x tops. I think I might have been able to slip into an XL, but it would have been tight. I hate being so busty and wish I could just be a B-cup. I'll never understand people who get breast enhancements. They're welcome to my Ds, if they want 'em.
--I'm nervous about my shin splints. I can only hope that they don't get worse.
--I'm starting to read "Refuse to Regain," and it's hitting me how much of a sacrifice maintaining a low weight is going to be. The author recommends no starches--bread, pasta, potatoes--basically my three favorite food groups. This will need its own post at some point, because I'm not totally ready to reconcile myself with the new eating habits that I'm going to have to adopt permanently. And I know that I could do them in moderation, but I think I agree with Berkeley's thesis that moderation doesn't work. It never has for me--a little always leads to more, and more always leads to way too much. I'm going to have to adopt some really harsh rules for myself once I get to my goal weight. Maybe I'll loosen up over time, but I need to start harshly disciplined. I have to get myself mentally ready for this in the next few months.
--It's amazing how many people think "lose" is spelled "loose."
So, on the whole, looks like I have more positive than negative going on, which makes sense because overall things are going well.
Tuesday, May 01, 2012
I just started reading The Beck Diet Solution, and as a counseling student I am thrilled to have found a CBT approach to weight loss and maintenance. In fact, I can't believe that I ever tried to lose weight in the past without preparing myself in this way.
So, without further ado, here are my Advantages to Losing Weight:
So I don't have to be worried that my shoes, underwear, heart rate monitor, hat, bra, wedding ring, coat, sweatshirt, or airplane seatbelt won't fit.
So I don't have to untag Facebook pictures of myself, avoid going to the doctor, lie on my driver's license, feel shock in seeing myself in photos, shop in the plus size department, or cringe thinking about my high school reunion.
So J will be proud of me, want to be with me, and feel attracted to me.
So my health isn't compromised by a bad back, 51% body fat, triglycerides of 254, and blood pressure that makes the nurse frown. So I donít have to worry that something is going physically wrong with me, like a blood clot, heart attack, or stroke.
So I don't have to miss out on cross country skiing with my daughter, rock climbing with my kids, or being able to complete the hiking trail. So I can run a 5k, join Jís volleyball team, and bike a century. Heck, so I wonít have difficulty doing daily tasks like getting up off the floor and tying my shoes, etc.
So I can fit into cute outdoorsy clothes at REI. So I wonít have to struggle to get clothes on, have clothes that ride up or are too tight, have to wonder whether Iíve outgrown something since the last time I wore it, or have to buy more clothes because Iíve gotten too big.
So I set a good example for my kids, and be alive to be a grandma to their children. And not just any grandma, but one whoís active, lively, and able to enjoy old age.
So I can be a fit, up for anything, strong, energetic, active person, with a positive outlook and optimism again.
So I can look in the mirror and feel good about myself, knowing that I accomplished something important. So I donít feel so dumpy, but I can actually feel attractive again.
So I donít always look around to see if Iím the fattest one in the room. So I can make a better first impression on people, and not have to feel self-conscious about whether they think Iím weak, out of control, or killing myself with my extra pounds.
So I can feel more in control, no hiding food, eating out of control, or feeling ashamed of how much I eat. So I am not constantly on the hunt for food at every convenience store, vending machine, meeting, and social event. So that I donít schedule extra trips to coffee shops to do work when what I really want to do is eat. So that food doesnít rule my life.
So I can live longer.
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