Monday, December 03, 2012
So a mere 21 months after embarking on a healthier lifestyle, I finally decided to see a dietitian about improving the overall quality of my diet. I did this with some trepidation because my very limited experience with dietitians has been all about restrictions, what you SHOULD eat and what you MUST avoid. I am not much (as in not at all) for following a restrictive food plan. The main thing Iíve done since March 2011 is to limit calories and sodium. In the past few months, I have also increased protein and fat grams to assist with losing increasingly hard to shed pounds. But then I started to worry I was getting too much protein.
Fortunately, I found a dietitian, Susan, who sounded very positive and encouraging on her web page and I did a brief interview with her by phone before setting an appointment. I knew we would be a good fit when she said the minute people say they are never going to eat certain foods, she feels they are setting themselves up to feeling deprived and going back to harmful ways of eating. Another good sign was when I said every time I read how carbs were evil and sugar was death, it made me want to go eat a big piece of cake, she laughed and said sheíd be right there with me. At any rate, her approach is to individualize the plan based on what each person is currently doing, incorporating the foods that they enjoy and want to eat.
Our first appointment was over an hour and a half during which Susan asked a bunch of questions about what I typically eat and how my approach works for me. Protein bars have been a very big staple in my diet and lately Iíve added to yummy protein shakes to the rotation. I have no desire to give either up, but would like to add in some more ďwholeĒ foods. In addition, I want to have a better handle on the number of carbs, protein and fat I should eat each day. SP Guidelines give me really huge ranges for each category. I am usually in those ranges, but what does it mean? There are so many opinions on what to eat, so much conflicting research out there, that I wanted an expert to offer some guidance. Lastly, I am in the process of figuring out what my maintenance range of calories will and could use some assistance there as well.
Susan looked a little alarmed when I told her I wanted to nudge my maintenance weight range down a bit more. Iím sure her concern is not that I am wasting away (despite what my mother and some others insist) but because the lower my weight, the fewer calories I will be able to eat to maintain it, given my height (short), age (older by the minute), gender and sedentary job (slumped in front of a computer). So she asked why I wanted to be a lower weight and I told her partly it was I just liked the numbers better. But more importantly, with my knees being severely arthritic, I honestly feel the lighter I can be, the longer I can delay knee replacement with my goal of scheduling the surgery as Never.
We didnít spend much time quibbling about what my weight should be, but she did state her calculations were based on me being 130. Currently, I am hovering a pound or two under that. Susan compared how much a person can eat to a checking account. The vast majority of people do not have unlimited funds so the amount of money they can take out is dependent on what they have in their account. Likewise, the vast majority of us have only a certain amount of food we can eat without running into trouble. Instead of bounced checks, overdrawing on our calories results in weight gain. The trick, Susan said, is to find the balance between over-spending so that you have problems and being too frugal so you arenít really enjoying what you have available.
I liked that analogy a lot. Susan calculated that my maintenance range, or calorie account is 1500-1700 which is a bit below what SP suggests of 1600 -1950. Since Iíve been losing weight at 1600, I imagine my calories will be more around 1700 or above, unless I manage to get down to 125 (my latest secret goal), which may reduce my daily intake a bit. The ranges she gave narrowed protein to a target that makes much more sense to me rather than the huge range SP offers. The range for fat is a bit higher and carbs a bit lower and much narrower than SPís. I am comfortable with these ranges and feel they can be achieved with only a little extra effort on my part. As I always aim for very achievable goals, that made me happy.
Susan noted, and I agree, that I am very much about numbers. I like to record grams and calories rather than food exchanges. After all this time, that is how I think as far as planning and tracking my food. She included a few days worth of suggested meals and snacks as a starting point. It really seems pretty easy to incorporate. Today is the first day I am trying the full plan (weekends I am active, happy and relaxed so tend to eat less and like it that way).
The biggest challenge for me will be planning snacks into my day. Susan felt I went too long between meals (4-8 hours), and this contributed to my urges to mindlessly eat. I can usually beat back those urges, but they arenít much fun. She suggested a snack of fruit and nuts at around 3 or 4 would help me feel less like Godzilla rampaging through my kitchen in search of tiny Tokyo residents when I arrived home at 6 (my words, not hers). Best of all, she made sure that I can continue to incorporate my much loved protein and fiber bars and the protein shakes I now adore into my daily eating plans.
I will meet with her in a few weeks to go over how this plan is working. My biggest curiosity is about how the snacks and a slightly larger breakfast will fit into my days. I decided I do not need to wolf down a huge lunch and then wait 7 or 8 hours for dinner. I can spread the food out a bit and see if that ends up being something Iím comfortable with. Right now I am watching the clock (1 hour, two minutes until an apple and cashews, LOL) but I am guessing snacks will feel more natural with some practice. A smaller dinner and snack a bit later also will be quite a change for me.
I am happy I finally got around to seeing a dietitian and that I chose one who is such a good fit for me. I feel more confident about what ranges I need to stay in and hope to run into fewer urges to mindlessly eat. Plus, it is great to have someone both knowledgeable and flexible to work with me as I fine-tune my diet. I really appreciate Susanís positive attitude and encouragement and am relieved that she was not appalled by my diet.
I do believe this is a significant new step in my healthy lifestyle and one that will increase my comfort and ease in maintenance.
Sunday, November 25, 2012
I was going to blog about Thanksgiving, how my long weekend went (great), the wonderful walks I had in the forest preserves where I often hiked when I lived in the Chicago suburbs, and maybe share some thoughts about how challenging this time of year is for those of us trying to lose or maintain weight.
But instead I keep thinking of the end of my walk in the woods yesterday. We were almost back to the car and I remembered being on that stretch of path with my dad. He didn't do much in the way of hiking since he had a partially paralyzed leg from Polio. And for the last 10 years of his life, he dealt with Post-Polio Syndrome and Congestive Heart Failure, making walking harder and harder. So that trip together to the Forest Preserve was a long time ago and not very typical of times I spent with him.
Yet, as I traveled up the trail through the starkly beautiful November woods, I thought of walking with my dad long ago and how much I miss him. And even though we probably only went down that path together once, it felt like yesterday he walked it with me a second time.
My dad passed away four years ago today. I thought of him some more this afternoon as I watched the movie "Lincoln." The storyline was partially based on the book Team of Rivals, which my dad read and thought highly of. I think he would have enjoyed the movie. I wish I could discuss it with him, to hear his thoughts, insights and dry sense of humor.
So, anyway, back to things Spark. Let's all take good care of ourselves so we can spend as much time with those we love in this life. And let's not take for granted our loved ones but enjoy them as much as we can for as long as we can. In the scheme of things, at the end, love is what is important. Good days, bad days, the holidays (good or bad) come and go. Love never ends.
Sunday, November 18, 2012
I've had a few interesting comments made to me recently.
1. "Oh, come on, it's the holidays. You can relax a little now."
2. "So? What's the problem? " (At a buffet meal, when asked why I passed on eating the flank steak and I said because it was covered in creamy sauce)
3. "I'm going to drop off a piece of a dessert I made. You can eat it or throw it out. "
The first two comments, I simply looked at the persons with my best "Seriously?" expression and the subject was dropped. With the friend who told me she was bringing by a dessert for me, I asked her "Why would you do that? It's just going to make me feel bad." When she asked what I meant, I explained I would feel bad throwing out her dessert that I no doubt would want to eat and I'd feel worse if I ate it. She immediately said, "Ok. I won't bring it over, then. "
I have a lot of support from the people in my life, but not always a lot of understanding of the odds I face. They figure since I am now at my goal range, I can go back to eating "normally." They don't get that normal eating isn't my strong suit. Or the strong suit of lots of us, for that matter. And they really don't get how much the odds are against me to maintain my weight loss. When I tell them the most optimistic percentage I've seen that people can maintain their weight loss is 20%, they are astonished. When I tell them I've seen that percentage cited as low as 5%, they gasp.
And gasp they should. Whether my chances are 20% or 5%, those aren't great odds, so I am very grateful for all the knowledge and information I have gained here at SP from members and articles. For example, there has been a lot of discussion about the study on behaviors of successful maintainers. I'm doing my best to copy as many of those behaviors as I can. Behaviors like:
-Tracking food daily
- Burning a minimum of 2000 calories per week in exercise
- Weighing daily
- Keeping eating out to a minimum
You know what behavior isn't on that list? Relaxing! So, no I'm not going to relax this holiday season, eat like the average, clueless American and gain weight that I fought so hard to lose. Those last 10 lbs were killers to get rid of and I want them to stay gone. And no, I'm not going to make stupid choices like the flank steak with the mystery sauce. I was already stuck at an all day work retreat. There was no point in making myself more miserable by wondering how many calories I just consumed.
These are such early days for my maintenance. I reached my original goal September 1st and then decided to lose a bit more which I accomplished at the end of October. I'm still figuring out what my calorie range is! I'm not saying I am stressing about maintaining this weight. I'm not. I love being at this weight and how good I feel. I'm just being very careful as I add more calories. I know this is going to be a lifetime effort.
I'm thinking of maintaining as a new hobby or maybe a second job. One I am passionate about and that brings me amazing benefits like increased fitness, improved health and some really cute clothes.
Not something I am going to take for granted or get lazy about. So don't mind me if I don't relax about eating, exercising or my weight. I am beyond happy with my decisions and the results they bring.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Monday, I binged for the first time since I began my weight loss journey in March 2011. I've had a few days where I went too high in my calories, over-eating a bit, some binge quality to my eating but not a true binge for over 18 months. It was a pretty good run.
I'm still not entirely sure where it all went off the rails on Monday. It was a stressful day at work, but I have plenty of those. It was an especially long day at work, which I rarely have, and I had brought food for lunch and dinner with me. Before 2, I had eaten all my food already and I knew it was mainly stress related. Still, I figured I'd make it through the long day and have a small meal when I got home of about 200 calories and be ok.
In addition to the stress eating, I did have a good amount of actual hunger. I've been very hungry the past couple of weeks for some reason. When I finally got home, it was after 8. I briefly considered riding my exercise bike for 15 minutes because I recently discovered that helps me feel less like eating too much. But I was tired, I was really hungry and that morning I had done a vigorous hour on the the treadmill. I figured I could skip the bike for the night.
And then after my small meal, I started binging. I didn't even binge on anything approaching delicious or indulgent because I am pretty careful what I let into the house. I knew I was binging. I knew I should stop and yet I didn't until I felt fairly ill.
At that point, I went to bed and had a bad night's sleep.
Recovery strategy: I kept to my new habit of weighing myself every morning and was up 2 lbs. I expected something like that and accepted it. I went for my usual hour walk that morning. I ate very lightly all day and only when I felt truly hungry. I also only ate "real" food, skipping any of the protein bars I like and which were part of the binge the night before. I enjoyed the food I ate and didn't want to any more than I consumed. Then, at my acupuncture appointment (for my arthritis), I asked for some help with appetite control. I figured it might help.
What I learned: While I don't fully understand why this happened after so many months of not giving in to the desire to binge, I have come to a few conclusions. While I definitely do NOT recommend anyone binge, this experience was so unpleasant, even as I was eating (when you'd think there'd be some enjoyment) that right now any idea of over-eating does not appeal to me. That might prove helpful heading into the holidays! :-)
I am impressed by the way my body was able to recover fairly quickly from the assault it suffered. I am renewed in my desire to treat my body with respect, kindness and excellent care. I am not going to gain weight and put increased pressure on my knees. I am going to maintain in my weight range (which I haven't left, despite the 2lb gain) and keep fitting into all my cute new clothes.
I will not go so many hours without eating, especially when I am stressed. I am going to be very careful about what food I bring with me to work since I am much more prone to mindless eating there than I am at home. I'm not going to bring any cereal into the house for now since the binge started with a fairly bland cereal. It is just too easy for me to grab a handful, or two or four of cereal.
And I'm going to ride my darn exercise bike or do some form of exercise for at least 15 minutes the next time I feel like over-eating. I'm going to continue reading Full Filled, which addresses emotional eating and our relationship with food.
So, the binge was a really bad experience but I feel like I have learned a great deal from it, including how much I do not want to go through another binge or any serious over-eating. I love being at this weight. I love how I feel and how much I can accomplish. In a way, the binge has renewed my commitment to healthy living.
I say that, fully aware there will always be some part of me that wants to binge, to treat my body like a garbage disposal. I'm now a little wiser, I hope, in how I can keep that part from taking over again. Wish me luck!
Sunday, November 11, 2012
Ok, this might sound shallow. And when you look at my photos, which are mostly at the beach where I am dressed so as not to care about sunblock stains, you could easily be thinking, "Say what?" But for a while now, I have really been fairly obsessed with wanting my clothes to fit, if not perfectly, then pretty darn close. I have low tolerance for baggy clothes. A little loose is fine. Baggy makes me look sad and worn. Not that I am a fan of tight, mind you!
This obsession has cost me a good deal of money though I look for bargains as much as I can. I honestly never expected to land at a size 6 and so overbought 8's and 10's. I think after all the years of wearing clothes that ended with X, clothes that covered two sizes, featured a lot of elastic and I still sometimes didn't fit into them, I now need my clothes to fit very, very nicely.
It is sort of like a little kid clutching a favorite toy for security. My clothes are my transitional object as I adapt to my new size and look. A way to reassure myself that I have accomplished more than I ever dreamed I could when I began this journey. I'll never argue that I am especially deep. This blog no doubt proves that point, LOL.
Get An Email Alert Each Time WILLOWBROOK5 Posts