I am wondering something now. I am wondering if maybe I have been doing this long enough to sort of know what I'm talking about.
See, I think I've been getting in my own way lately. I'm thinking too much. I'm doubting myself. Yeah, I've had lack of discipline, and bought or baked things I shouldn't, etc. But I ate cookies and snacks and whatever in December. I went to tons of parties, and giant gut busting meals at my in-laws'. And I still lost around 10 pounds, and my average calorie consumption in December was in the lower half of my range, instead of just barely squeaking in under the top.
But I think I've been overthinking how to fix it.
So I went back and clicked through my tracker, day by day. What was I eating in December?
Turns out chicken salad may be the secret elixir of weight loss. At least for me. I ate it for lunch more days than not (a modified version of Chef Meg's recipe, with Greek yogurt in place of mayo).
I also ate so many vegetables I must have just not had room for any junk. Lately candy, cookies, carby whatever is around, is a problem for me. I had the brilliant idea to make Chex mix (the sweet kind, not the salty snacky kind) this weekend. GENIUS. Not. I went to a friend's house for games & snacks without eating first - in December I NEVER did this. NEVER. If I was going somewhere where hunger might lead me to eat junk (chips, cheese, etc.) I ALWAYS ate first. Sometimes I even brought my own snacks - cut up peppers and carrots, and pumpkin seeds - in my purse!
So you know. Maybe I know what I'm doing, if I just remember what I *used* to do.
Problem #1: I've been reading more stuff about weight loss like "maybe I can do better." Lately I kept trying to eat more breakfast. Like, maybe if I eat a big breakfast I'll be less hungry throughout the day. I've read a bunch of articles that say you should eat more earlier and less at dinner, so you can burn what you eat way before bed, stuff like that. (I'm paraphrasing)
And.... you know... apparently my body does not work like that. I had a run of eggs for breakfast the end of February/beginning of March. It did not help. At ALL. I still ate too much throughout the day, so I've gone back to my 7oz of 2% Greek yogurt + plain sweet potato. Though now I weigh my sweet potato instead of eyeballing it. Heh.
So shut up, those articles. I'll do what I do. In December, up until Christmas, the main POW of my weight loss, this is what my breakfast/dinner calories looked like:
Dinner is always my biggest calorie chunk. Eating less than 1/3 of my calories for breakfast, or even less than 300, was not a problem for me. It didn't lead to ravenous binges and crazy plateaus. When dinner ISN'T my biggest calorie chunk, it usually means there is a problem! Either I went to a party or event at lunchtime where I ate *WAAAY* too much, or I ate a bunch of garbage and junk for snacks and was forced to eat a small dinner to compensate.
SO. Enough of that noise.
Problem #2 (probably): Coffee. It really doesn't affect me in terms of sleeping; I can have a big cup of coffee, 16oz or so, and go directly to bed. Doesn't bother me in the slightest. I can have coffee every morning for a month, then quit cold turkey and have no headaches or issues - provided I'm well hydrated and not having artificial sweeteners.
But I think it makes me hungrier. I remember thinking this sometime back a few months ago. I must have forgotten, or not noticed that I've been having coffee every day for the last few weeks - not because I need it, but because I like the smell and having a warm beverage on a cold morning. In December I had coffee no more than once a week, and I had more tea. So I'm going to switch back to tea and see if that helps.
Problem #3: I like to cook. I'm actually pretty good at it, I think. This should be a good thing. However, it leads me to want to experiment and try new things, but then when I don't have time I fall back on things that are less healthy. I'm all over the place - with planning (or lack thereof), with grocery shopping, with cooking, with keeping my kitchen A) clean and B) organized, and with calories and nutrition.
I think I need to just have A Routine for a while. A very boring, very stable, very predictable routine.
So I'm going to pick out a few dinners to make every week. (This is how my mom cooked when I was growing up. A rotation of ~5 or 6 things that we had almost every week, plus another 5-6 things we had a couple times to once a month. Though partly because she doesn't like to cook all that much.) This will help me save time and money on groceries, because I'll be buying the same things, save time cooking because it'll be more habit, and save me from the "AHHHH WHAT'S FOR DINNER" stress.
(Husby CAN cook... I think the last time I let him, when he actually made something from scratch without a recipe, was ~6 years ago, before we were married. He used ~3/4c of olive oil to cook two peppers and an onion. So.... yeah. No. If I hand him a recipe card and take all the ingredients out he will make it. But at that point I may as well just do it myself.
Also, I stockpile pantry stuff like the world is coming to an end. My pantry is overflowing. This weekend I'm going to pull EVERYTHING out and inventory, and start using up stuff. If I have a routine hopefully I can stop buying stuff because "oh yeah I read a recipe sometime in the last 5 years that I thought I wanted to try that uses this ingredient!" Arrrgh.
(This squirrel thing must be genetic. Growing up we had a pantry, shelves along the entire wall of the stairs down to the basement, and more shelves in the basement. All of these places were FULL of groceries - canned fruit, soup, sauces and condiments, crackers, cereal... If something in the pantry is empty, there's probably one in the stairs and three in the basement. Hah.)
I'm going to review my favorite cookbook (Appetite for Reduction) and choose the standard Monday Wednesday Friday dinners and plan a schedule. ~4 planned Same Every Week meals and ~1 Wild Card for making something new and exciting.
My menu was pretty boring, for the most part, in December. But I don't remember suffering, I don't remember husby complaining, and I lost 10 pounds. So. Yeah.
I think it's time to stop reading articles about how to lose weight, and just do what I've already found to work.