Sunday, March 25, 2012
We don't use the word "diet" here at Spark People much. Not a word I like much either. But I do use it, myself. And I've recently blogged on the topic.
For me it's always going to be necessary to diet. Permanently.
And it's going to be necessary to tolerate -- even savour -- being hungry. Every day. Human beings are meant to experience hunger. Thin people do experience hunger. Because hunger signals that I'm ready for my next meal. And hunger signals that I will enjoy that meal even more.
However, in that context, I've been thinking about commercial "diet food". The whole focus of diet food and diet cooking is on eliminating hunger. It's a billion dollar industry. And hunger cannot be eliminated if weight is to be lost and cannot be eliminated if weight loss is to be maintained. It's a delusion.
Those 100 calorie pouches, the special cookies that are calorie reduced, the baked instead of fried chips. I don't buy that stuff. In my experience when I did, I just ate more of the calorie reduced foods until I'd had six reduced-calorie cookies instead of two regular cookies, amounting to the same number of calories, or maybe more. Self-delusion. Although (never wishing to be boringly consistent about anything) I do use sugar substitute moderately, Splenda being my favourite.
And I've been thinking about diet recipes too. There is a big focus here at Spark People and in a million cookbooks and magazine articles on lower-calorie versions of favourite foods with the promise that they are "just as good" or even better, more flavourful. The calorie reduced cheesecakes made with low fat cream cheese and sour cream, the fudge brownies with applesauce instead of butter, the ovenbaked "fried chicken". And yup, I've contributed a few of those recipes too. None of them do taste quite as good as the original. Because they don't appeal to all of the senses -- the mouthfeel of fat, the crispiness of fat, the crunchy sound of caramelized sugar, the smell of butter-soaked popcorn. So maybe if I had a slightly bigger portion of the cheesecake it'd be good? No? Delusion again. I've had to come to the conclusion that cheesecake is not for me. Fried chicken is not for me either.
With the way I'm eating now, increasingly I don't use recipes. As for the requests for my "soup recipes": I would love to help and I'm flattered to be asked but I don't really have any. My soup is comprised from whatever's in the cupboard and the freezer and those veggies in the fridge that need to be used up from last week's salads.
But what I'm learning is that out-and-out "diet foods" -- commercial product, or my own "makeover" versions -- are seldom satisfying. Although I 'm not totally consistent, primarily and increasingly I'm finding that my omelettes and oatmeal and soups and my salads (staples of my diet) are tending to be "real food". By which I mean, not commercially calorie-reduced or revamped versions of higher fat originals.
Real oatmeal, old fashioned type: not the prefab pouches. Of course there aren't any calorie reduced radishes or tomatoes or bell peppers or arugula. All those raspberries and blueberries and apples are by definition "full calorie". I do often choose lower fat or fat free dairy products (yogourt, feta, milk) but I'll eat full fat old cheddar and full fat butter rather than processed cheese slices or ersatz margarines. I will eat full fat cashews or nut butters and avocado and salmon: all good fats. Provided I have them in controlled quantities. Very controlled. And not every day.
I can't have some of these real foods in sufficient quantities such that I'm not going to feel hungry. I do feel hungry. Every day.
Hunger is not an emergency. And no amount of "diet food" will prevent me from feeling hungry anyhow, if I am going to sustain my calorie range. And maintain my weight.
No amount of exercise will permit me to eat whatever I want either.
I am going to be hungry. I am going to savour my hunger, savour my meals. Real meals. Because real food is more satisfying to me.
Gotta grow up and accept this. No whining. No regrets.
Less is more.
Don't misunderstand: I'm not "lecturing" on this topic, not at all.
This is a new core belief I have deliberately adopted, and I'm repeating it here primarily for my own benefit. Repeating it until I believe it, act upon it and realize the results.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Slurped up my last bowlful of a stellar peanut butter chicken last night: it had lots of Asian vegetables (water chestnut, snow peas . . . ) and buckwheat noodles, and big chunks of garlic and ginger. Plus Thai green curry paste. Loved it!
This week's soup will be Cajun black bean and sweet potato with celery, shredded carrot , green pepper and brown rice. It smells very very spicy! And it's colourful -- chock full o' vitamins.
Good thing too: the miserable cold I've been fighting off has wrestled me to the ground (sniffles, streaming eyes, generally achy/breaky), and my taste buds will be requiring powerful flavour if I'm to taste anything at all.
Now I'm heading off to sit in a steaming hot tub. Exercise will have to wait a bit . . . and I'm not worrying about that too much, I always do return to the gym. And weight loss maintenance for me is at least 80% control of nutrition.
It was a busy week, and lots awaits me on my desk: but I'll get through it. No need to work this weekend. I'm lying low.
Sunday, March 18, 2012
TUFFMUFFIN, aka DH, comments humourously on my "Best Dressed" blog with respect to my "success" in inveigling friends to make clothing donations to me. He points out that people give me their clothes when their own weight has increased, such that their clothes no longer fit 'em. And he advises, sagely, "The secret therefore is to make friends with those not inclined to Sparkpeople ways."
He's kidding. I don't deliberately focus in on making friends with those who are gaining weight. Surreptitiously feed 'em up!! No matter how enticing their wardrobes might be!!
However, he made me think.
Why have I been so unsuccessful in "recruiting" friends to join SparkPeople? Which would have meant that they could have kept their clothes and worn them themselves?
I don't know.
Until TUFFMUFFIN himself signed up a couple weeks ago (AND he's already lost 3 pounds!!) I had influenced not one person -- not one at all -- to become active on SparkPeople.
Let me hasten to say right away: this wouldn't be information I'd offer up. I don't proselytize, "Let me tell you about SparkPeople." Kinda delicate: hard to interpret any other way than, "I think you need to lose weight". And: most people absolutely don't want to hear that. Not at all. So it's generally a topic I don't broach. (I quickly learned when I was looking for new "homes" for my own size 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, and 10 clothes, as I was downsizing . . . . expensive clothes, in many instances . . . . that there were not going to be any takers. There is apparently no tactful way of offering up clothes "that I'm now too thin for" . . . that corresponds to offering up clothes "that I am now too fat for". So I finally took mountains of them to the thrift store . . . . ).
A few of those who knew me when I was 230 have asked how I lost the weight. But that was more than a decade ago. Old friends have got used to me at my current size, and the majority of more recent friends and acquaintances have never known me fat.
But, quite a number of recent acquaintances have asked me about how I stay (relatively) thin. People at the gym, for example. Or work colleagues. Or clients. Or just casual friends.
When asked, I have mentioned Spark People. Probably at least 100 separate times, maybe more. But (before TUFFMUFFIN signed up, and he really doesn't need to lose much weight, if any -- a couple more pounds at most) only ONE person was interested. That would be my totally wonderful hairdresser, who has cut my hair for over 25 years. And yeah, he does use the site . . . but only the nutrition tracker. Nothing else.
My sister tried it. Did not like it. Waaaaay too complicated. Overwhelming. Weight loss shouldn't require so much effort. My daughter tried it. Ditto. And same with everyone else to whom I've mentioned SparkPeople. They've maybe been kinda shamefaced, reporting back, but they've been definite. Unanimous. "It's not for me."
How come? SparkPeople offers an amazing range of services. And information. And supports. And incentives. The nutrition and fitness trackers, the weight tracker, recipes, the meal planners, the exercise videos, the teams, the points, the goodies, the friends . . . . You can use as much or as little as you choose, of all that's on offer. So what's not to like?
I don't know.
I like it. Obviously. I've been here almost three years!
SparkPeople is not nearly as "in your face" as fatloser.com. Or even Judith S. Beck's "Diet Solution". Or Susan Estrich's "Making the Case for Yourself". But although SparkPeople may be kinder and gentler: people I know don't sign up.
And then, in addition to those who say they're desperate to lose weight and never sign up at all, I'm also still struck by the number of people who "fade away" on SparkPeople. Some of whom have apparently not lost any weight. But just given up. Some of whom have lost weight and so think maybe they don't "need" SparkPeople any more. Not realizing that maintaining is even tougher than losing. (Some of these "former losers" do return, having left and regained, for a further shot of support. Which is inevitably given once again, unstintingly and unquestioningly.)
Weight loss is not easy. Weight loss maintenance is even more difficult. And probably the right question to ask would be, "Why is Spark People so successful in helping people lose weight and keep it off", rather than "Why don't more people sign up?"
Gotta say, however, that I still wonder. Being fat is no fun: unhealthy, uncomfortable, unsightly. And if that sounds harsh, I don't mean it that way . . . . heaven knows I've lived it. Live in fear of reliving it!
I'm thinking: would some kind of preliminary screening questionnaire help? To assist people in signing up for just those services initially that are going to work best for them? So that they don't get overwhelmed? So it seems less complicated? For example, the nutrition tracker is key for me. I'm not a very good "team" person, or "challenge" person . . . but there are people here for whom that's the heart of the Spark program. And others for whom the running is the big thing. Or the message boards. It probably depends upon time available and personality.
Obesity is an epidemic. SparkPeople is free. It works. Why oh why don't more people make use of this amazing SparkPeople resource?
Has there been any research done correlating those who are most active in various areas with those who self-report most success in weight loss or maintenance?
Any thought about a "graduated introduction" to SparkPeople services? Maybe earn eligibility for beyond-basic services by earning points . . . for example, log in 30 days and you get the meal planner, log in 60 days and you get the exercise planner?
But keep it simple to start. Would that help?
Friday, March 16, 2012
OK, not on any famous list or anything. Not even close.
But: the charming young woman who sells me my newspapers most mornings at my local convenience store (and who is herself quite the fashionista) told me today that the staff there talks about their regular customers all the time.
Who's pleasant (and who's not).
Who smiles (and who doesn't).
And who's best dressed!
She told me: there was no debate about that. It's me!! "Different outfit every day, always so put together. Stylish . . . " She went on and on in this vein. But I was too embarrassed to take it in . . .
So I just laughed. Thanked her but laughed. Told her I don't spend much money on clothes. It's old old stuff I have had forever. Or stuff from the discount store deep sale rack. Or stuff from liquidation stores. Or stuff from thrift stores. Or stuff that girlfriends have given me. FREE. That's my favourite price point of all. Free.
Today's outfit? Cheap cheap cheap cheap.
Camel cuffed pants, ($8, discount sale rack, at least 8 years ago). Cuffed pants in size 6-8 tend to migrate to the deep discount rack because a lot of women would have to have them shortened to wear them: I just wait for them to go on sale!! And then further on sale!!
Quilted camel double breasted jacket, leopard print lining. (High end designer type item, buttons different ways, really like this one: $20, discount sale rack, again at least 5 years old).
Silky white tie blouse. Old old old. (Free)
Camel lace stockings. Old old old. (Free)
Patent camel T-strap peep toes, high heeled. ($12, sale rack)
A camel leather "harness" type belt with gold hardware. ($5, discount sale rack)
A gold chain. (Free, gift)
Leopard print hat. (Taupe, camel, black: $5, sale rack)
Taupe crinkle raincoat. (At least 20 years old and bought on sale then -- but classic high end)
Taupe leather handbag. (Liquidation: $40, well-known brand: retails for at least $200)
Taupe leather gloves (Free, gift)
Amazing . . . today there were no thrift items. But total cost? Less than $100 excluding the coat . . . price of which I cannot remember, but heaven knows it's "depreciated" to nothing over its lifetime! Still in good shape though.
So what's the most expensive item I "wear"??
Hair cut: get it trimmed every 6 weeks at a top end salon. And then it requires very little attention beyond daily shampoo/blow dry. Maybe a few hot rollers while I put on minimal makeup. We wear our hair all day every day, so a good haircut is a good investment I think. (But: no colour, streaks or otherwise).
By far the most expensive item: the $50,000 body!! (Joke, of course). Based on the entirely notional value of all the time I spend at the gym when I could be and should be working and billing!! Exercise costs me a ton of bucks!!
But time at the gym means I work smarter when I am at work.
Time at the gym also makes everything I wear fit better. Makes me feel better, carry myself better. And it's the reason I can "get away" with all those cheap/thrift/hand-me-down clothes!!
So yeah. Worth it.
"Best dressed"? The compliment was much appreciated. Although it's beyond hilarious.
Still, let's be candid. A little shot of vanity never hurts to keep the motivation high!!
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