Friday, January 29, 2010

Improving Eating Habits

I’m happy to report some excellent progress in changing my eating habits. Here are three specific instances:

Situation #1: Yesterday my colleague and I ran to TJ Maxx on our lunch break. I picked out an adorable new Calvin Klein dress on clearance (size 12!) to wear on Valentine’s Day. As we left the store and approached my car, she suggested stopping by Burger King, which is right next door. I was planning on having a Boca burger on an Arnold’s Sandwich Thin with leftover broccoli, but I conceded and we went through the drive thru. I was extremely tempted to order fries, and she even said to me, “Oh, you can break your diet a little, it’s no biggie.” But I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich with no mayo. No fries or anything. It was only seven Points. It wasn’t the best food to fuel my body (the bun was still sugary white bread), but it was certainly one of the better choices.

Situation #2: When I got home from work last night, I was in a terrible mood for some reason. I felt stressed, extremely tired and very anxious. I couldn’t pinpoint the source of my anxiety, which of course only intensified my mental distress. Jeff was working late, so I knew I was on my own for dinner. After a short nap, I rummaged through the cabinets looking for something to eat. I spotted a box of cream of wheat and thought about making a big bowl of it, with lots of butter and sugar (one of my favorite childhood comfort foods). I seriously considered ordering takeout or driving up to McDonald’s. But I was able to talk myself out of it. I made a quesadilla with two whole wheat tortillas, black beans, corn, jalapenos and cheese. It was really big (I called the whole thing 10 Points), but it was filling and nutritious. I didn’t snack the rest of the night. Normally when Jeff isn’t home, I sleep, eat and watch TV. I snack uncontrollably. I managed to avoid that!

Situation #3: Every Friday morning my office has free Panera bagels in the kitchen. Delicious, fresh bagels in every variety you can imagine, complete with multiple tubs of heavenly cream cheese. I always try to resist the bagels’ enticing call, and I fail about 40% of the time. I usually choose the standard plain because it’s lowest in calories. And of course I use the low-fat cream cheese; I honestly can’t taste the difference.

Inevitably, two hours after eating the bagel I feel absolutely terrible. My head feels foggy and heavy, I feel ravenously hungry despite consuming all those calories, and I’m extremely tempted to break into the candy or have some chips/cookies from the snack cabinet. In short, it starts an endless cycle of overeating for the whole day, not to mention how godawful it makes me feel. Some days I have a Fiber One English muffin with cream cheese, just to make myself feel like I’m getting the bagel experience. However, today I made myself some scrambled egg whites in the microwave and paired them with nonfat Chobani and blueberries. That was two hours ago and I still feel fine.

I’m so excited to be listening to my body and learning from its feedback. My body doesn’t like empty carbs with no protein. Apparently after years of feeling like crap after carb-heavy meals, I’m finally starting to catch on!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

If It Doesn't Feel Like Work...

…it’s not going to work. I had a pretty disappointing weigh in yesterday. For some reason I jumped .8 pounds from Tuesday to Wednesday. I was feeling sick on Tuesday night and went to bed at 8:00, after having Wendy’s for dinner. I had a large chili with four saltines, a side salad with 2T light ranch and exactly 10 of Jeff’s fries. I was still hungry and unsatisfied after dinner, so I had some nonfat Greek yogurt mixed with canned pumpkin for dessert. I then promptly fell asleep and didn’t wake up until 6:30 a.m.

On Tuesday morning I weight 199.2. I guess the combination of high-sodium fast food and no workout led the scale to read an even 200 on Wednesday morning. I was pissed, but that’s was still a pound less than last week, so I figured I’d be okay at my weigh in. However, I was on a different scale than last time, and it obviously weighs a little heavier because, after my weight registered, the older lady behind the counter said, “You’re up .2, honey.”

Is anyone else familiar with this feeling? Standing on the Weight Watchers scale, nervous because you didn’t have the best week, exhaling all the air out of your lungs in case oxygen somehow affects that number? I hate feeling uncertain about my progress, and I dread the little pep talk they try to give you if you’re up, even by .2 pounds.

I wanted to protest, tell her I weighed myself this morning and there’s no way I’ve gained since then since all I’ve had is a cup of coffee and seven almonds. But then I thought back. Have I been tracking every day? Not really. Have I been measuring all my portions? Definitely not. Did I have too much alcohol? Probably. Did I get in all my workouts? No.

Did I deserve to see a loss? Not really!

I am so sick of that feeling. I feel hopeless and scared that I won’t be able to lose any weight. My initial goal is to lose 5% of my body weight, or 10 pounds. I want to meet this goal desperately. I’ve been stuck around 200 for literally YEARS. I don’t have any concept of what it’s like to weigh under 190 anymore. I won’t feel like any progress is happening until I achieve a loss that matters to me.

I fought tears for the first 15 minutes of my meeting, then I got over it and resolved to keep going. A woman in our group made lifetime yesterday, and in the process of congratulating her, the leader made a comment about maintenance. She said her advice to the woman was to keep going to meetings and stay on the program just like she did before, only eating maintenance-level calories. She emphasized the importance of coming to a meeting every week. I chimed in with a comment: “I’ve decided that, loss or gain, I’m coming every single week. I finally realized that if I just keep going, there’s no way I can’t fail. The only way I’ll fail is by giving up.” Saying those words aloud to a group of strangers really made something click inside me. Tears sprang to my eyes and I felt a wave of relief come over me.

This week I’m going to do the work. I’ve been half-assing the program as always, and I’m getting half-ass results. A colleague and I were discussing weight last night at our company’s 2010 kickoff party. I was talking about maintaining this undesirable weight for so long, and how I felt like nothing has worked to help me get the weight off. She said that this weight is my body’s set point. My body does NOT want to move from this number, so I have to do something really different to shake it up in order to see a loss.

I know exercise is the missing link. Hard, intense exercise. I’m going to do the work until I reach my goal, then keep going until I reach the next one. I didn’t fully accept it until I said it aloud: If I don’t quit, I will never fail.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Some Thoughts on Accountability

So I've been plugging along these past couple weeks, attending Weight Watchers meeting regularly again. I've been paying for a monthly pass for about a year, but I haven't really consistently gone to meetings. Actually the last time I went to meetings before now was June. Wow...I wasted a lot of money; I could have been using that membership money well AND losing weight this whole time.

Anyway, I've proven to be extremely talkative in the meetings (as usual), and my leader directs her lecture at me a lot and often asks for my thoughts if she sees me nodding my head. I enjoy speaking up; it hammers home how much I need to be there when I realize how much I have in common with all these women (and men). During last week's meeting she asked me how much weight I'd lost, I answered in recent terms, automatically saying, "Well, I just started last week, so only two pounds." Of course everyone still applauded, and she noted that it was still something to be proud of.

Then I thought, "Wait. I should have said 22 pounds, because since I first started back in 2007, that's actually how much I've lost." Then I thought that since I've actually lost 40 pounds from my heaviest weight, maybe I should have said that. Two pounds really doesn't tell my whole story.

I thought about this question later on in the week--am I just beginning again, or is this all a continuation? I've been maintaining this weight for over three years, save for a few fluctuations in either direction. I expressed some frustration to Jeff that I haven't been losing weight faster. I have 50-60 pounds to lose--shouldn't I be seeing those initial big numbers (losses each week of 4-6 pounds) that give people the motivation to continue? "But you're not just beginning. You're not making some huge switch from terrible eating and no activity to perfect eating and tons of activity. It's not a shock to your body."

Good point, huh? I eat relatively well and get a decent amount of exercise, but I don't consistently restrict my calories enough to actually lose.

In comes the importance of accountability. Last weekend I splurged a little food wise in New York. I ate a bagel and some other Jewish deli deliciousness (cheese blintzes, anyone?). Here's a pic of us at the Jewish deli. I'm on the left:

I also ate some Mexican food, lots of drinks and part of a massive cupcakes. I temporarily lost my mind and proceeded to buy four cupcakes to take home:
If you've never been to Crumbs Bakery in New York, beware! These cupcakes were easily the size of large muffins. And NYC posts calorie information everywhere by law, so I actually saw exactly how many calories were in each of these bad boys (around 550-650).

Then for some reason, as soon as we got home I didn't even want them anymore. It was Sunday night, and I knew if I wanted to see a loss at my Wednesday meeting, I'd have to seriously watch my Points and get in some butt-kicking workouts. And that's exactly what I did. And I saw a loss.

Do you think under normal circumstances I would have worked hard to make sure my indulgences weren't reflected on the scale? I really doubt it. I was tired from a long, whirlwind weekend of bus rides, whisking around NYC and sleeping less than six hours a night. The last thing I wanted to do was get some intense workouts in before Wednesday. But I did it, and I saw a loss.

That's how I felt this weekend. We went out to dinner with friends on Saturday night, and while I tried to order smartly, I had several full-calorie beers. But I got my eating in order straight away on Sunday morning. Normally I'd have blown off good eating and exercise on Sunday in favor of waiting until Monday, but I ate really well and did 40 minutes of intense strength and cardio. And the scale was down this morning! Funny how that works. :)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Still Alive!

Wow, it's been quite awhile since a post! For anyone reading, I promise I'm not falling off into the blogger abyss! I spent two weeks at my parents house in Indianapolis over the holidays, and they actually don't have Internet access. They're periodically able to steal neighbors' unlocked wireless networks, but let's just say it's spotty at best.

Since returning to Boston, I've been hit with the double whammy of 12-hour work days and lots of rehearsals and performances with my choir. But I have some good posts ideas brewing and will make it a priority to get a good one up tomorrow.

Other updates:
  • Jeff and I are spending the weekend in NYC! We've never been there together, so I'm really excited.
  • I started going to Weight Watchers again on Wednesday, and I'm really excited about it. I've made a promise to myself that I have to go to a meeting every week, regardless of whether or not I think I've lost weight. In the past, I've followed this very distinct pattern: I'll cheat for a bit, not lose very much, skip a meeting telling myself "I'll work hard and go next week," and then voila, it's five months later and I'm five pounds heavier. Not this time!
  • I've been pretty on track with my workouts (thank you 30-day Shred), and I've tried some really cool new healthy recipes. More to come!
That's it for now. I'm still at work and will probably be here until 8. Bleh. January is a very busy month for PR practitioners, as it happens! :)