Thursday, May 17, 2007
Today I was at 138.8 (accidentally typed in 138.3 on SP), which is LOWER than I was on Sunday morning before the binge. Yay! That means it only took 3 days to lose the weight from eating THE MOST I would EVER eat. That means that at any point, I could go nuts and eat like mad, and as long as I'm back on my program the next day, I'm in the clear 3 days later!! WOOHOO!!!!!!!! Plus, I was still pretty full the first and even the second day after, so it would have been hard NOT to stay on program. The third day I went out to eat and had 1,350 calories, and I was still down!!
Lowering my percent calories from fat is working well for me right now. Not sure how it'll make me feel in the long run, but for right now I am loving how much farther my calories go without the fatty foods.
My insight for today is that you have to make the program work for you individually. You aren't going to get graded on your weightloss performance, so you don't "have" to do what "they" say you should do. You need to do what you can keep up without going crazy or having adverse effects on how you feel or on your weightloss efforts.
*My heart-rate monitor was driving me crazy. Too many numbers to be strict with! For the purposes of activity points, I want to count running and heavy at-the-gym cardio as high intensity, stairmaster fit test/strength training/biking as medium, and walking as low. It gives me a psychological boost and makes me want to do it. So I'm going to do it that way. It's my body and I can do what I want to. Ha!
*I can eat MORE when I eat less fat. I know SP and WW have their reasons for encouraging you to eat fat - SP with its 30% of your daily calories guideline and WW with its 2 tsp of oil per day requirement. But this is working for me right now, so I'm going to do it!
*4 activity points per day doesn't always mean I'm going to work out as much as I was....but it's enough for WW and it's enough for me. I can do more when I eat more and have gotten more sleep on the weekends, or whenever it fits into my schedule and I feel like it!
*Caffeine, artificial sweeteners, artificially flavored calorie-free beverages, gum....they're my crutches, I'm not going to count the calories (I chew sugar-free gum that's 5 or fewer calories per serving) and I'm going to use as much of them as I need to to get through the day!
There is to be no beating myself up. If something isn't working, I need to figure out why, without a guilt trip or feeling down on myself. I have to keep the big picture in mind - I went down from being overweight my whole adult life basically, usualy 160-180 pounds, to a healthy, attractive 135-140. I did a fanastic job! This is literally my first experience with maintanence so I have to learn how to do it in a way that works for me!!!
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
I am very pleased with myself. I ate only about 850 calories before dinner, so I was able to go out to a restaurant and eat a real dinner, but in a very healthy, moderate, reasonable, "lifestyle-not-a-diet" kind of way. I had iced tea to drink, a little of the bread and butter, and my friend and I split the schrod! It was just enough food and I had enough energy for a good strength training workout afterwards (with 15 mins of stairmaster as a warmup). When I got home and got on SP, I was very pleased with the numbers - about 1,350 calories/25 points. My workout was 4 points, and my daily target is 21, so 21 + 4 = 25, which makes today an "even steven" day!
I'll probably be up a couple pounds at my weigh-in tomorrow, thanks to the way I was eating over the weekend (especially Sunday), but I'm not going to stress about it. I needed that binge! The weight will come right off, and I feel much better and have learned a lot about myself and the way this stuff all works.
A little off topic, but I wanted to mention that I've been eating a lot less fat the past few days and more protein. SP recommends 30% calories from fat, but you get to eat so much MORE when you eat less fat, because even healthy fats are so calorie-dense. I'm going to try this for a while.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
I am back down to 139.8! That is only 0.8 pounds higher than before my Sunday binge, and it only took 2 days of strict dieting, though I don't know how much I lost because I was too scared to weigh myself on Monday after the binge, so I don't know how much I'd gained. Plus, it was really easy to be strict the past 2 days because I was still kinda full from Sunday!!!
I am back to the 130s. Yay.
Jess doesn't have an internet connection so I can't use SP at his place. Last night we went out for dinner and I just had a garden salad with balsamic viniagrette. I'd eaten 1,000 calories already that day before dinner. I really wished I knew exactly how many calories my dinner was, because there was a JP Licks across the street and I would have loved to get a little dessert....but I didn't. This morning I entered the info on SP and found out I was only at 1,150 calories for the day yesterday - too low! I was very hungry this morning. I was also very grouchy after dinner last night when the hunger started to kick in, I was tired, and I was very annoyed because Jess and I went for a run and he could effortlessly run so much faster than me even though I've been training and he hasn't. No fair.
So my WW meeting is tomorrow, so I think I should be somewhat strict today, but after tomorrow's meeting I think I can/should go up a little in calories. Well, today AND tomorrow I should just listen to my body and not let myself go crazy hungry.
Next time I eat a lot I really need to make an effort to do strength training. I think that when I have a lot of calories floating around in me I can do it hard and build muscle a lot better than when I'm dieting strictly.
I am still playing around with the idea of different calorie amounts - but I think that I should just keep on "playing it by ear" and listening to my body.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
So today I was at 141.2. I am so glad I made myself guess at what I was going to weigh so that I wasn't too disappointed when I saw what my real weight was. I had guessed 142 so I was actually HAPPY it was 141, even though that's about 6-7 pounds up from my lowest. TWO coworkers today told me that I would look best with a little more weight than I had at my lowest. I am really fine with that, I am just kicking myself over that tiny bridesmaid dress situation. I guess this is my chance to really give skinniness a real shot from now until December, and after the wedding I can loosen up if I want to and let myself weigh in the 140s. But from now until then it's 130s for me.
Yesterday I stayed at 1,250 calories for the day and 24 points. I am keeping my daily target at 21 even though technically it's 22 now that my weight is in the 140s. I earned 4 activity points and didn't use any flex yesterday, so I had one unused point. Perfect. This morning I was hungry but not weak-hungry, just your typical grumbling stomach. I may try what Lacy suggests in her comment below yesterday's blog entry and eat 1,200-1,350 per day during the week and 1,400-1,800 during the weekend. Maybe that'll be enough to stave off the need for a huge binge! Thanks again Lacy for your comments.
Monday, May 14, 2007
I've read that 95% of people who lose weight gain it back, and I can see why. I seriously think that I am at a point now where I could go in two very different directions - I could either slowly revert back to the overweight old me, or I could develop a maintanence plan that works, both in terms of being effective at keeping my weight down, and in terms of me being able to handle it. And I'm not just talking about having the willpower to stick to it...I'm talking about everything. The program affects me SO much physiologically and in turn that affects me psychologically. So EVERYTHING about me is affected - my personality, my ability/desire/energy to do anything, and of course how I look. Wow. If nothing else, you can't say I'm not learning a LOT about myself from this experience.
I have so much to write about that I don't even know where to begin. About 3-4 weeks ago I think I started to really have problems. I had been following my weightloss program for about 3 months at that point. I'd lost over 30 pounds very quickly and the program was consuming my life. I was getting more and more strict and was so incredibly proud of myself for following my program so perfectly.
Everything would have been fine, but then I started feeling hungry more often. Hunger had always been a part of the diet and I expected that, considering that I was burning more calories every day than I was eating. But gradually it got more intense. I felt it all the time. I needed more sleep. I was working out harder, but the length of my workout was totally dependent on how long I could go before I got too hungry to continue. All along I'd been packing breakfast, lunch, and snacks (and sometimes dinner) and bringing them to work...but I started wanting to eat all of it in the morning. I stayed strict, but I stopped losing weight.
Wow, writing about all this now is amazing. It's like having a new lens to see the entire story with. I was ABSOLUTELY not eating enough, and my body fought back by not losing any more weight. Just like I've read about in countless magazine articles.
Anyway, I knew I had to increase my calories - I'd been really strict about getting 1,200-1,300 per day and earning enough activity points that I hardly used any flex points. I increased to 1,300-1,400 for a couple days (I think), but was still hungry. It was getting worse. It was like I didn't have any energy for even the slightest movements unless I'd recently eaten something. I wanted to spend all my time in bed and once I got there I did not want to have to move around a lot, changing positions and stuff. I'm thinking now about how I've been noticing that my arms have been "falling asleep" in bed more often lately, and I bet that's because my body was trying to conserve energy by not moving around very much in my sleep! Wow!
(I don't know how anorexics do it by the way....)
I was SO confused and distraught. Why wasn't the increase in calories helping me feel better? How many calories did I really need? Was I lacking some nutrient (maybe something from red meat?)? Was I sick? How was I supposed to keep the weight off, let alone lose more, when I literally could not keep going the way I'd been going? It wasn't a question of willpower...I physically couldn't keep up with all the demands I'd been putting on myself. It just seemed like I was in an impossible situation. However, throughout it all, I kept blogging and thought I'd come up with possible solutions many times. I thought it was my body's way of telling me to start maintanence, but I was still hungry even eating what should have been a maintanence amount, AND I was gaining weight and had no energy. It wasn't a way to live. I couldn't enjoy the weightloss at all.
This past weekend I snapped. I was "good" during the day on Saturday, meaning that I was logging all my food choices on SP and my points in my WW tracker. Saturday night we were having Jess's parents over for dinner at his place and I was so conflicted. I had thought it would be great to be the ones planning the meal, so that I would know exactly what I was eating and be able to plan the rest of my food around it. I even thought I could eat less the rest of the day to eat a normal-sized portion at dinner and "look normal" while still really being strict.
I didn't totally blow it on Saturday, but I was NOT the Perfect Weightloss Dictator I had been. I snuck a few bites of things I shouldn't have - mostly nuts. I never would have done that before, but I was STILL HUNGRY. Yes, it was a willpower thing, but I think "willpower" has WAY more to do with our physiological state than I EVER realized before.
Sunday, yesterday, was Mother's Day. I spent the first half of the day in basically the same state I'd been in on Saturday night. I was eating things I never normally would, but I still had full intentions of attempting to log it all and stay within the program with activity points, flex points, and my 4 maintanence points. I kept sneaking bites of things, but I kept on feeling hungry and tired and having no energy and being grumpy! And it was even worse because I knew my weight was up. It had gone from a low of 133.8 about 3-4 weeks ago to 139.0 and I knew it was just going up even higher. I HATED the fact that this was going to be my last day in the 130s. I hated that I was so tired and kept eating and it didn't seem to make any difference.
Well, the gates flooded open late in the day. We were about to go out for dinner, after a day of eating much more than I was used to...and I started going crazy in my parents' cabinets, eating eating eating. Then we went to a Greek restaurant and I outdid myself with eating. I don't think I should describe it all because it'll just make me think about all that food again, but I will just say that I would be surprised if my total for the day were anything less than 4,000 calories. I mean I ATE. My stomach started to hurt and I had half of my dinner wrapped (this does not include the bread and salad though), and then when I got home I ate that! My mom and brother were trying to get me to rein it in, but there was no reining. My stomach hurt like crazy after that, and I went to bed with my heart racing (it's usually under 40 beats per minute when I'm lying in bed at night these days) and my stomach in fullness pain.
This morning I felt awful too and almost called in sick. In fact, I DID call in sick, but I hung up before actually leaving the message because as I stood there I suddenly felt a little better. I decided I'd go to work and if I felt really awful there, I'd come home. I hadn't planned ANY food for the first time in 3 months. I just grabbed a bag of Total, a bag of frozen fruit, a bag of frozen vegetables, a bag of baby carrots, and a huge tub of plain yogurt. AND a measuring cup!
(Oh, and I DID NOT weigh myself this morning. I'm sure I gained a few pounds and probably weigh about 143 today, but I just really didn't want to see that!)
I have kept track of everything I've eaten today. I still have a piece of salmon to go (and it's 7 p.m.), but when I'm done with that I will be at about 1,250 calories for the day (24 points), about 10% of my calories from fat (no nuts today), and about 20% from protein. That is very different than my usual - I try to match the SP circle graph as closely as possible - 30% fat, 55% carbs, 15% protein.
Right now, I feel GOOD physically. I don't have ANY of that hunger/weak feeling. All day, after a small meal I've felt full. I've felt tempted to try to find ways to rationalize blowing the diet again, but because my PHYSIOLOGICAL state is better, my WILLPOWER is in place. I knew blogging would put me in just the right mindset.
So I'm not tracking anything about yesterday. I called it a "Free Day" in my Weight Watchers tracker and on here, I just left everything blank.
All of that leads up to the most important part - where do I go from here? I am at my make it or break it point, but the more I write the more I know this is not going to be the start of me unraveling everything I've done. I can't promise that there won't ever be a time in the future where I give it all up and go back to my old ways, but that's not happening now.
I don't have a full plan going forward...that's part of what I want to blog about...but I also am not sure I need a COMPLETE manual right now. I still need to take things one step at a time and just keep on adjusting my plan. Here's what I know now though, that I didn't know before this weekend:
*without a doubt, all the physiological and resulting psychological yuckiness I was feeling was due to being too hungry. Well....... there is one other piece of info to consider.... I hadn't had any red meat on this program, and yesterday I intentionally ordered meals with red meat for lunch and dinner. So, technically I can't tell for sure whether how I'm feeling now is a result of the calorie increase or the red meat, or even something else in the food I ate yesterday that I was lacking. But it's a pretty safe bet to say that it had a LOT to do with the increased calories, and maybe something to do with the red meat and other nutrients, too.
*It is IMPOSSIBLE to live a life of following the program the way I had been, and it IS possible and even easy to be strict and healthy the day after a major binge.
I have to wait and see what happens on the scale. I might weigh myself tomorrow morning, but I'm scared because I'm sure it'll still be up above 140. My best guess is 142. I am going to get weighed in at my Weight Watchers meeting on Thursday and I do believe that by then I can make it so that for the week I only "officially" register a gain of a pound or two, and that's OK.
The best-case scenario is that out of all this I am able to develop a plan where I can actually get down to 130, feel good, and be able to have fun eating once in a while.
The second-best-case scenario is that I find a way to maintain my weight just about where it is now, feel good, and be able to have fun eating once in a while.
It may seem like "What?? After all that she STILL wants to lose more weight?" but a month ago I ordered a bridesmaid dress in a size that I doubt I will fit into unless I weigh under 135 (size 6, runs small). I called this weekend and found out that it is too late to order it in a different size (8, would fit me probably at 135-145). My brother's wedding is Dec. 1, 2007. That is 6.5 months away. So no matter what happens between now and then, that gives an idea of what my weight needs to be on Dec. 1.
Plus, why not? I might as well look as good as I can. Plenty of 5'6" women are walking around weighing 120-135 pounds without feeling miserable, so I think I can too, I just have to learn how.
Before last night's feeding frenzy I was starting to develop a theory that certain people can just handle eating less....again, NOT willpower but physiologically just need less, so they can go day after day after month after month of eating a small enough amount to have a low weight without the adverse side effects I was feeling. I also was starting to think that my body did NOT want me weighing as low as I was, and was forcing me to gain some back.
Now I'm not sure. If I actually find a way to incorporate "feeding frenzies" into my diet - ones that are big enough to kill the yucky feelings - without gaining more weight than I can burn off before the next time I need a feeding frenzy....maybe I CAN really lose more or maintain! A couple of comments here...one, I'm not sure yet whether it has to be a binge, or whether I can really find some magic number of calories to eat on a daily basis where I lose/maintain without ever starting to feel yucky. My other comment is also about that yucky feeling. I don't know if that is just "the way it feels to lose weight" so if I want to lose weight, I have to feel that way for a while. I know I wasn't feeling it at first though...but I had more fat reserves to work with then, too.
I am leaning toward a theory, but of course I have to see what happens to know if I'm right. My theory is that, quite happily for me, having a binge every once in a while is GOOD for my program. My best guess is that it would go something like this:
I have a binge - it could even be one meal. Just one meal where I don't even try to track, or earn activity points to cover it, or anything. It certainly shouldn't be as big as the one I had last night - I didn't feel good after that! But it should be big enough to satisfy me completely - I think that's the only way to kill the yucky feeling (though I can play around and see). I think it SHOULD include food that would normally be "off limits" (and maybe I should also be rethinking what foods are off limits too - not sure yet). Red meat has iron and I think B vitamins? Sugar and refined carbs provide instant energy. Less "healthy" choices will have less fiber and a whole other issue I haven't even mentioned is the fact that I was having these stomach aches and bloating all the time and I think it was from eating too much fiber, though I didn't know how to fix the problem because healthy foods do tend to have a lot of fiber.
Anyway, so I have this binge. My best guess for how often is to listen to my body and go for it when I start to feel The Yucky Feeling (which, just to be clear, is the weak/tired/hungry/grouchy/awful feeling I'd been living with the past few weeks). It absolutely can't be about just seeing a pizza commercial on TV or remembering how fun the binge was that I had a few days ago. THAT is a mindset that will put me right back at 160 pounds before I know it. This may be the absolute hardest part and I simply cannot let it happen. This is the willpower part too, because when I am giving myself enough, wanting even MORE is about willpower.
By the way, I am SO glad I figured this out! I am surprised I haven't heard more about this whole issue, but I bet most people kinda figure it out on their own because it's hard to just keep plowing through it without giving in and having an eating fest. I give myself credit for having the willpower and determination it took to get to that point, because I bet many other formerly overweight people would have caved much sooner, back when it WAS a willpower issue. Again, let me just say that I don't know how anorexics keep it up!!! I guess they don't. They get really sick and they have to go to the hospital.
Anyway, back to the master plan and how to plan my "intentional binges." I could see if there's a pattern and plan it out, but I've never really operated that way. I don't think it should be "Saturdays" or whatever either, because I don't think I should do it when I don't need it just because it's scheduled in. It needs to be based on:
*how I feel
My weight and how I feel, I strongly suspect those two will go together. I think that after a binge my weight will be up, but it will be much easier to stick to my diet the next day. The questions that only experience will answer are, how long will the "easier to stick to diet" factor last, and how long will it take to lose the binge weight? The answers to those questions is going to determine how easy or difficult it will be to stick to this plan, and whether it will help me lose and/or maintain.
Let's say I have a binge and I gain 3 pounds. The next day sticking to 1,250 calories is no problem and I lose 1 pound. The following day maybe it's a little harder - maybe that day I eat 1,350 calories instead and it's not hard. I lose another half a pound. After that, it's just plain hard again and I'm still up 1.5 pounds from where I started - ugh! I HAVE to see how this plays out on the scale to see if it's going to work.
Of course there are sooooo many factors here. How many calories was the binge? How many pounds did I gain from it? How many calories do I eat in the days afterward? How quickly do I lose the weight? For this to be worthwhile I have to lose as much as I gain OR, even better, lose a little MORE than I gain. And what about exercise?? I think that on the days I have more energy, I should exercise harder than the days I'm feeling The Feeling.
This does have a lot to do with how I feel physiologically, but there is some free will involved! Feeling The Feeling for a couple of days is OK if I feel good the rest of the time, and I know it's possible to live through, because I did, for a few weeks! If it turns out that feeling that way is the only way to actually keep losing weight, I will. But I might get lucky and find that I don't have to. Afterall, when I started feeling that way more often, that's when I stopped losing weight. Yikes. Worst case scenario is that I've lost my ability to lose weight at all...but I doubt that! It still is all about calories in vs. calories out, just with the understanding that too few calories in makes me physically unable to continue.
Anyway, the third factor from above is life. IF the intentional binge sytem works, it's possible that I might even use it to enhance my ability to "have a life." I could actually BE one of those thin people you see at a restaurant eating whatever she wants and still keeping the weight off!!!!! In that sense I can plan the binges a little. When I start to feel like I need one, I hold off until the next upcoming food-related event (and they're ALWAYS coming up) and do it then.
So ideally, I have a binge and it makes me feel fantastic. I then am able to diet off all the weight that I gained from the binge plus a little more, then when I start to get too much of The Feeling I start the cycle all over again, but this time maybe I manipulate my binge a bit so that I don't gain quite as much as I did last time. After a few cycles my weight is lower than when I started, I've gotten to enjoy a few great meals, my diet has been easier to stick to, I've felt really good, others have enjoyed my company instead of me being a grouch, and I've learned more about myself and how my system works. This is a winwinwinwinwinwinwinwinwin situation, IF IT WORKS.
Worst case scenario - I have a binge, I gain weight, and I can't get it off. I get discouraged and want another binge, or The Feeling comes back again too soon. Well, I'm here to tell you that even given the worst case scenario I will NOT let my weight creep back up to unhealthy levels. Maybe I let it go up a bit. That sucks because of the bridesmaid dress, but I either get it tailored, diet hardcore in the weeks before the wedding, or worst case scenario I need to buy another one. Anyway, maybe I don't need to let my weight go up even with the worst case scenario. It would take a lot more tough love to keep my weight off if my plan doesn't work, but I can play with the plan and try other things if it doesn't work at first. I could even - gasp - try going hardcore again indefinitely until I see what kinds of results that produces.
Anyway, there are some things to keep in mind here:
1. The binges must be as infrequent as possible, I think. It's OK to get The Feeling for a few days, a week, whatever. When I do, it's OK to decrease my exercise somewhat to correspond with my lower energy levels. Or, increase calories a bit (going up to 1,600 calories per day is VERY different than a binge). Like I said, I can't have a full plan laid out without knowing what's going to happen. But I can go into this knowing it's not permission for free-for-all eating all the time. 99% of the time, tough love is still required!!
2. I guess I gotta suck it up and get on that scale. I need to know how things are working out and I can't learn by shielding myself from the "damage."
3. The binge should probably just consist of one meal, not a whole day or whole weekend like I'd been considering. I think I should try to make it something I've been lacking or majorly craving, and try to avoid anything that's blatantly, unrationalizably unhealthy, like trans fats. But when I do have it, I should NOT worry about tracking it (though it may not hurt to track the rest of that day) and I should keep going until I'm satisfied. Then I should stop - no need to hurt my stomach like I did last night.
I'm remembering now how full I used to feel at the end of the day when I started this diet. I'm feeling very full now too! (I've eaten my salmon.) Yay, I like this!!
4. I want to try a few different things with my "regular day" nutrition plan. I want to broaden out what's OK to eat to include small amounts of red meat (it'd be good if I could find buffalo!), and try not to go sooo high on fiber. I think a little tiny bit of sugar/refined carbs would be good. When I'm keeping track of my overall calories and nutrition info, I think things like eggs and a bit of bread or pasta would be fine. Still not OK though are crazy-high-sodium foods (so stop the canned soup habit already) and trans fats.
This stuff is complicated!! No wonder so many people have trouble keeping the weight off.
Also part of #4...I want to try changing around my macronutrient percentages. Today I felt great on quite different percentages, but I think I will have to wait for the aftereffect of the binge to wear off before I can really tell. I think higher levels of protein might make me feel more satisfied, while lower levels of fat mean that overall I get to eat more volume for the same calorie buck.
5. When I'm feeling good, revel in it, and when I'm feeling bad, wallow in it. In other words, when I can, I should be exercising all-out, but also I should be taking advantage of my extra energy to DO things and experience life. When it's been a while since I've had a binge and The Feeling starts to creep up, get more sleep, use more "crutches" (e.g., caffeine and gum), and lighten the intensity and length of workouts.
6. Knowing me, I might be tempted to go for the next binge as soon as I'm not feeling stuffed anymore. A good rule might be that I must wait for the next binge until I reach a certain weight. Depending on how I feel, I could set this number at just being where my weight was when I started the binge, or a bit lower. For this first one, I started at 139, but my weight was as low as 134 not too long ago, so unless I'm feeling seriously awful, I don't think I should have another one until my weight hits 134 again.
Soooo....I think I have enough of a plan to get me by for now. I will definitely keep active around here sharing how it's going. I'll need to be pretty vigilant if I want to learn how to make this work!!!
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