Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Before I turned 50, I could eat anything and as much as I wanted. Bread, pasta, meat, Chinese food, Mexican food, Italian food, barbecue and picnic food were on my list along with pie and croissants. I was active and exercised each morning before starting work. Then came the opportunity for a promotion to a high level but stressful job. And back to school to finish another degree to insure advancement to the next level up when the opportunity arrived. The degree came with 35 pounds. At the end of the degree off to Weight Watchers and after two years, 30 pounds came off. A lot of work in a good way, but the next promotion came and 3 years later the 30 pounds were back with a few more. The work was rewarding but the stress and lack of time really took its toll. A few more years down the road and it was time to step away from the stressful job and change direction. Back to Weight Watchers and again another 30 pounds lost. Then without even being aware, 5 years later I was looking at the scale with the 35 pounds back yet again.
It is clear that I am really good at gaining weight and fairly good at losing it for a time
I was not ready to make a commitment to Weight Watchers but needed something. So I joined Spark People and by working with the system I lost 20 pounds. This is good but not enough.
Although I am really good at counting calories, know how to measure accurately and eat a lot of vegetables the weight remains stuck for the last 12 months.
I have really had time to look at my food issues. There are wonderful words of encouragement in the articles and the life stores. There is a lot of really helpful information separating out myth from fact in the forums, blogs and articles. But after all the reading and calorie counting and food journaling, I have come to a new view of food and diets. I will be on a Constant DIET every day for the rest of my life. That is if I want to be at a healthy weight for me.
The name of the Diet does not matter or the balance of different types of food I eat each day, what matters is that I eat small amounts of food at each meal. After watching my weight fluctuate, up 9 pounds after Christmas and down 5 pounds after weeks of really watching what I eat each day, I have come to an understanding about food for me. I use the Spark menus for Low Cholesterol to make sure I get the right amounts of protein, carbohydrates and fats each day.
The food must be very low in fat (NO Full Fat Dairy ever), low in sugar (Cheesecake is OUT), no Red meat (steaks are a food of the past) and very moderate amounts of skinless chicken and lean pork. White fish which is lower in fat is best and sashimi is good but hold the rice. Green, yellow and red vegetables are good while anything white (except cauliflower) or starchy (corn) is out! Moderate amounts of fresh fruit each day are good but no sugar and definitely no high fructose corn syrup. Dense, low sugar whole grain bread is in anything else is out of limits. A certain amount of olive oil each day is ok, but not too much. Anything fried is on the black list along with my very favorite lasagna. I only read Chinese menus now and order salads at the Italian restaurant. Enchiladas are on the black list, and at Mexican restaurants I eat basic chicken street soft tacos. Occasionally at Christmas, I splurge and eat handmade tamales.
Starches of any kind are to be avoided unless they are whole grains, like quinoa, and even then only in measured amounts. White rice should be avoided at all times, mashed potatoes made with butter are never to be on the plate and fried potatoes are only in my dreams. Plain baked sweet potatoes are good.
I hear you say “rearrange what you eat in a day to accommodate something like spaghetti and meatballs”. It does not work for me at this age of 65. A cup of pasta is the right amount but it is not very satisfying and the scale goes up a pound the next day. If I eat a whole dinner at a restaurant—salad, bread, entrée and wine—even in moderate amounts the weight goes up 3 pounds and hangs around for several days. If I eat out two days in a row, it takes a good week for the weight to come down. The holidays are always really hard and last year we all had colds and the flu. Our will power to resist the high fat treats and high calorie meals went out the window. It took three months to lose the 9 pounds.
I hear you say “increase your activity, that will help”. Sorry it just doesn’t do it. At this age, it is important to stay active, be flexible, work on your balance and get the right amount of nutrients. But somehow for me, the weight does not stay off unless I write down what I eat and eat small amounts of food on the list. I do not eat late in the evening, really avoid meat and have many more vegetarian meals during the week.
During my life I have enjoyed a lot of wonderful food in restaurants large and small, grungy and posh, eaten great meals at homes of friends and cooked wonderful dinners myself. But the Change in View for me is that food intake has to be managed every day, every meal. I am again within 8 pounds of the weight that makes me feel good and is healthy for me. In order to keep the 30 pounds at bay, it takes being on the Constant Diet, exercising some each day, and not allowing stress to be an excuse to eat. I have been on the weight-gain/weight-loss road too many times in the last 15 years. I will not do this again.
I read a Spark article on intrinsic motivation and it really helped me to connect into the inside person who wants to stay healthy at a good weight. http://www.sparkpeople.com/res
I have changed my View of my relationship to food.