Weighty Matters

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Portion Awareness

One of the biggest challenges for me is assessing how much food to put on my plate.  We never really had the “clean plate club” or the “eat everything because children are starving in Europe” mentality at home when we were growing up.  However, we were eaters; if there was food in front of us, we ate it.

Combine that with the binge eating and compulsive eating disorder and I have a lifetime of not being able to clearly estimate portions.  I’m not good at knowing up front what amount is the right one for me when I’m serving myself and putting together a meal.

Pre-surgery, I could eat and eat and eat massive quantities – enough for two plus people.  It took a lot for me to reach the uncomfortable point.

My restricted stomach prevents me from binge eating, obviously.  I can no longer consume large volumes of food.  However, I’m still not always the best judge of what is enough or, more importantly, when my real hunger is satisfied.  Sometimes I’m one bite more than full and then completely uncomfortable.

I am actively working on improving my portion awareness.  There’s a disconnect between what my eyes and mind agree is an adequate amount and what is the reality for my stomach and nutrition.

It would seem that the obvious solution would be to weigh and measure everything.  I’ve discussed before how much I hate doing those things.  I want to learn to eyeball the portions first, then develop better mindfulness while I’m eating.  Ideally, I will develop my portion awareness to the point where I take just enough.  However, if I put more on my plate at the outset, but then reach satiety and have had enough, I want to stop eating – even if food remains on my plate.  There is no law, written or unwritten, that says every single bite must be consumed.

Some of the challenge remains mental.  I see smaller portions and think they will never be enough.  This is a holdover from the days when I was wildly out of control with my eating and, certainly, from before weight loss surgery.  Make no mistake; my portions these days are already definitely smaller than I used to eat, but I think I still start out with more than I need.

I believe the plan that I’m on helps with this balancing act.  The whole fat versions of dressings, sauces, etc., create a good mouth feel and increase satiety.  I’ve had the physical experience of this, but still fight the mental images and the familiar “It won’t be enough; it’s never enough” refrain that still runs through my brain far too often.

Those are the times when I need to remind myself to just do it; to try a little harder; to go with less and see how I feel.  Again, this effort presents more evidence that this is a process, not an event.  It’s a journey.

What a trip.

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Slicing, Dicing, Cutting Back and Keeping Fit

Silly title for a post, I know, and I’ll do my best to make it all relevant to the content.

I had an excellent time away last weekend at my Tai Chi Sabre workshop.  After doing the regular set for more than four years and feeling at least somewhat competent and balanced, it was interesting to return to being a complete newbie with the Sabre Set.  As I joked to a friend, when I started Tai Chi before, I felt awkward.  This time I felt awkward but I was armed.

Did you play sports or do any activity where you had to have a special outfit or equipment?  I remember when my Dad took me to a sporting goods department to help me pick out my first, very own glove for playing softball.  I felt so special in that moment.  Same thing when I got my first two wheel bike, or, later, my own purple bowling ball.  These things were rights of passage in a way and signified our full participation in whatever activity we were involved.

A friend pre-ordered our sabres for the workshop.  When I picked her up and she brought them to the car, I almost said, “Ooooh.  It’s so pretty.”  Honestly, it’s a nice wooden sabre made from red oak, so there is a prettiness aspect to it if you like and appreciate different kinds of wood.  The next day when the workshop instructor first told us to pick up our sabres and showed us how to hold them for the beginning of the set, I felt like I did as a kid the first time I took the field with my brand new softball glove.

The cool, special feeling remained through the weekend, even when I felt my clumsiest or despaired of ever finding my balance and coordination, let alone remembering the sequence of the moves.  Let me tell you, we worked hard.  Each morning we began with two full regular sets of Tai Chi, followed by several minutes of foundation exercises.  After a short water break, we worked on the sabre set.  We learned it a few moves at at time in a sequence and practiced over and over and over again.  Then the instructor would demonstrate the next sequence of moves, adding on to what we’d already learned.

We enjoyed a 90 minute to two hour lunch break during which we shared a meal but then broke into groups to do scheduled tasks such as washing dishes, chopping fruit or vegetables for dinner, putting away tables, etc.  Back from lunch, we all did another full set of Tai Chi, followed by a few more hours of more sequences from the Sabre set.  Break for dinner, do the after dinner tasks, reconvene for another full Tai Chi set, then a couple of hours more of Sabre.  By the time 9 p.m. arrived and we stopped for the night, collectively we looked like we’d just run a marathon.  I believe we all felt the same way.  The next day followed the same schedule and we finished learning all of the set moves.  The next morning when we reconvened, we concentrated on refining the moves and doing the set over and over and over and over again.

Thankfully, even with close to 100 people learning with all of the turns, chops, cuts and “throwing” of sabres (that don’t ever leave our hands), nobody actually got sliced or diced.

I will not pretend that I am anything close to having it down.  I am happy that I can remember most of it, but need to consult my notes if I get stuck on a transition from one sequence to the next.  I just keep practicing and practicing, knowing that eventually I’ll have the sequence down and then can really focus on refining my moves.  I will tell you without hesitation that I had a blast!  This is a fun set to learn and do and there’s something very cool about doing Tai Chi with my red oak sabre!

Food wise I was not strictly compliant.  I gave in to enjoy some really tasty carbs and I don’t regret doing so… particularly not with the overload of physical exercise we got.  Now that I’m back, I’m definitely cutting back — cutting the white carbs out again — and am back on track.

Today I saw my new primary care physician for the first time.  I’m happy to report that my blood pressure numbers remain good.  My cholesterol ratio of HDL:LDL is really good.  So is my blood sugar.  The doctor and I talked for a long time about my weight loss and my fitness levels.  She said that she looks not just at the numbers as in pounds on the scale, but at the overall condition of the patient and my condition is pretty darned good.  She encouraged me to stay on the path that I’m following, have faith that the pounds will come off, add some fiber supplement to my diet and she’ll see me in a year.  So, booyah for a great medical check up and keeping fit!

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