A couple of days ago I walked to the grocery store on my lunch break to stock up on snacks for work. My work hours can be erratic, and I'm often there for both lunch and dinner, so I keep lots of food and beverages on hand. Luckily, we have a fridge, freezer, microwave, toaster oven, kettle and can opener. There's even salt and pepper in the lunch room!
I live in a tourism mecca, so there are way too many restaurants nearby. However, I make most meals to save money and, mostly, to save calories. When I cook, I make lots of extra and then portion it up for work. I LOVE FOOD, and if a new way of eating is going to last, DELICIOUSNESS IS MANDATORY. No debate. No argument. If it's not yummy, it's not going to cut it -- full stop.
Luckily, I used to cook for a living (oh so long ago) and I've got mad kitchen skills. Also I'm developing an increasingly adventurous palate, becoming more willing to try new things. (Just had my first barbecued eel sushi - tasty!)
At the store I bought some of my regular work snacks, plus a few treats. The check-out clerk said: "So healthy!" and I was TICKLED PINK. Then on the return trip I ran into someone from my last job. Haven't seen her in over two years, and in that time I've lost about 60 pounds. She was blown away by how different I look! She kept looking me up and down in disbelief. I eat healthier and I look healthier…imagine that!
In case you're interested, here's what I bought. It doesn't even seem that healthy to me, because there are three sweet treats!
sugar snap peas
lemon pepper tuna
laughing cow light cheese
black sesame brown rice crackers
plain rice cakes
butter toffee rice cakes
non-fat cherry yogurt
skinny cow mini fudge bars
The list above doesn't reflect my regular meals; it's just snacks I bought to keep at work. I know some people don't believe in snacking, but I need to keep my blood sugar stable. Sometimes I eat snacks with almost as many calories as my meals. I guess I'm doing the 'five or six mini meals' plan, thought I hadn't thought of it that way. A nutritionist once told me that the difference between a snack and a meal is that a snack should have two food groups and a meal should have three or more.
The main difference in how I eat these days is that I base most meals around veggies, eat a lot more fish, and eat tons of fresh fruit. TONS!!!!! (Okay, not literally tons, but it's a crazy amount.) My sweet tooth seems to have really diminished, and I credit fruit for some of that.
The other really big changes is that I eat very little flour. I've been avoiding wheat for a few years, but since I started Spark I've cut right back on other types of flour too. For grains, I eat a lot of brown rice and millet, and I love polenta! I don't eat wheat because it increases my arthritic inflammation. If I watch what I eat and stay really healthy, I don't need to take any medication for my arthritic condition! Yet another powerful motivator....
Sometimes I do eat rice pasta. Sometimes I'll even have wheat, though not very often. Deprivation is a huge trigger for me, so I try to avoid it. I'll eat wheat on special occasions, where I would feel deprived if I didn't partake -- birthday cake or something like that. The big accomplishment is that I can have a really small piece now, and it doesn't trigger a binge!!!!! Yay! Yay! YAHOO!!!!! And if someone brings donuts in to work, I don't even want them -- probably because I just ate some raspberries or apricots or strawberries or cherries or nectarines or….. Oh, summer is such a FRUITY BLISS!
This week I've learned about some of my remaining triggers for overeating. If I'm sleep-deprived, I'll eat a lot more. If I have too much caffeine, I eat to try to settle my nerves and calm my stomach. If I have a couple of drinks at a restaurant, I'll probably say, "What the heck!" and order dessert. So it's wiser to abstain from wine if I go out for dinner, or maybe just eat at home and then meet for drinks after. But sometimes I will have wine and dessert, and THAT'S OKAY!
No rules, just guidelines. Rules just make me want to disobey! So I have general guidelines that I stick to most of the time. That way there's room for the curveballs life can throw. Plus, 'most of the time' is more than good enough. I used to think I had to do things so perfectly, so then I wouldn't even try, because how could I succeed? Now I look at the calendar on my Start page and see that I'm mostly hitting my calorie range, and that's GOOD ENOUGH, DANG IT!!!!
I have a hunger for fitness and weight loss now. I used to have a huge emotional hunger. I felt like I would never fill up. Using food to fill an emotional void is like drinking a glass of sand when you're thirsty. Square peg, round hole. It just doesn't work.
What works? Well so far, it seems to be these things:
A deep commitment to health and wellness.
Regular, honest self-evaluation. (This includes daily food and fitness tracking.)
Finding ways to stay excited and happy about my progress.
A willingness to keep trying new things, to keep working on getting better.
Setting myself up for success by choosing realistic goals.
Accepting that I won't always be perfect, and remaining committed to long-term changes.
Choosing fun exercise and delicious, healthy food.
Creating a plan that fits my personality and lifestyle.
Sharing the journey with kind and supportive people who are working on the same goals.
This Spark journey is one of the most exciting things I've ever done. I get excited about it every day!!!! It's thrilling because I finally have the tools (SP!) and the confidence that I can make these changes -- CHANGES THAT I'VE WANTED FOR MOST OF MY LIFE! I felt so powerless for so long about my emotional eating (and the weight that came from it). But I got support and made small changes and found new, non-food ways to cope with feelings.
Then I found Spark and it all fell into place. These changes FEEL SO RIGHT that I just know, right down to my toes, that I'm on my path, heading in the right direction, WHERE I BELONG!