Weighty Matters

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Staying in the Day

I have a bad habit of pressuring myself with big expectations when it comes to my weight loss performance.  Surely this is part of a diet mentality, but sometimes it feels like big wishes while other times it could be setting myself up to fail.  I’m not sure but I know that I have to stop.

The root of this is my obsession with weighing myself.  I’ll get on the scale before showering or eating anything in the morning and then again before I go to bed at night.  My mind set is somewhat different, depending on what stage I’m in for the effort.  When I’d first start a diet and was going great guns, or right after weight loss surgery, I just wanted to weigh myself alll of the time, as if I could physically watch the pounds disappear from my body and just needed the digital evidence before my eyes.

When things go great, this is positive reinforcement.  Look, I lost a pound.  Hooray!  That’s great.

Then I start calculating progress in my head and projecting where I want to be, or where I could be a few weeks or months into the future.  I set goals based more on “oh please, that’s where I want to be” rather than giving any thought to what’s practical and possible.

What eventually happens is that I veer a little off course, or my body doesn’t stay on the schedule that my mind determined.  I get upset with myself.  A little depressed.  Air leaks out of my motivational balloon.  My mindset gets less positive.  Things can go downhill fast.

I’ve had a string of really strong days but I can already see that I’m falling into that bad habit again.  Too much weighing.  Too much playing “what if” and calculating how much weight I possibly could lose by such and such date.  This game goes like this… “What if I lose two pounds a week?  That’s eight pounds a month, or thirty pounds in four months.”  Oh, but wait.  I don’t stop there.  The thought process goes, “But if I lost 10-12 pounds in a month, then I could lose almost 50 pounds in four months!”  Gradually, the expectations get larger, more improbable, and the pressure increases.  I lose my focus on what I need to do today with each meal.  Projecting into tomorrow, next week, next month or whenever, does not help me shore up the foundation of right now, which is what I need to get to tomorrow.

I like to think that weighing myself daily keeps me honest, and twice a day gives me an emotional boost.  While these things could sort of work positively for me sometimes, honestly, there is more potential for screwing me up in my head.

My recovery program emphasizes One Day at a Time.  When times are challenging, it could get even more immediate, like One Meal at a Time.

I need to stay in the day with my program.  This is a process and not an event.  It’s a journey.  It isn’t a diet.  It’s my life — lived in health and recovery.

Most of the time the tools of the program are things that we do.  In this case, the next tool I need to add to my kit is to stop doing something… weighing myself so frequently.  It is almost as scary to think of doing this cold turkey as it is to give up a certain food all together.  I am afraid that it will stress me out too much to right now commit to only weighing myself once a week.  I’m going to gradually reduce my dependency on that digital display as a measure of my success.

This requires faith in myself and in my program.  I know, I know, that if I follow my food plan and keep my abstinence one day at a time, I will not only be a lot more serene and happy, but I will also lose weight.  I need to free myself of a time schedule for the weight loss and just keep going day by day by day.

Just like I’m making sure to commit my food by typing it into a digital note on my phone every  morning and then logging each meal on My Fitness Plan after I eat it, I’m going to make this commitment in writing — okay, in typing.

For this week, I commit to weighing myself only three times:  Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings before breakfast.  My focus will not be on what I weigh, but what I need to do every day to stay abstinent, follow my food plan, and nurture my recovery.  No matter what the scale number says on one of those mornings, I will not give into the temptation to weigh myself again at night, or the next morning.  Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings only for the week.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

 

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SANE Eating Plan

A couple of days ago, I came across a short article by a registered dietitian in the Miami newspaper.  In it, she talked about being inundated by diet headlines when standing in the check-out line of the supermarket.  I knew just how she felt.  The magazines have sooo many suggestions… Detox, eat this, that or the other thing for a flat belly.  Lose a gazillion pounds in a week by eating this superfood.  Melt off the fat by doing this.  Don’t eat THAT food.  It will make you swell up like the purple kid in Willie Wonka.

I always consider it ironic that across the aisle from these self-help magazines are all of the magazines for cooking, recipes, great cakes, seasonal menus, etc.

Anyway, after seeing all of the headlines, the dietitian shared an approach that she highly recommends.  She calls it getting SANE… as in adopting a food plan that is sustainable, approachable, nutritionally balanced and enjoyable.

It makes eminent good sense.  Sustainable, as in picking a food plan that you can reasonably follow and maintain.  A plan you can stick with.

The next step is to realize that healthy eating is an approach.  We embrace it without becoming dictators to ourselves.  Giving ourselves permission to splurge or have a treat sometimes will help us sustain the effort.

The dietitian is a fan of eating minimally processed food.  Whole, natural products are desirable for the N – nutrition.

Finally, there’s the idea of enjoying the food we consume.  Good food that tastes great, nutritionally sound meals prepared freshly with flavor — all make it easier to eat well.

S.A.N.E.  doesn’t this sound like good common sense?   I’m keeping it in mind as I plan my daily meals.  Like the dietitian says in the article, eating this way won’t help us lose 15 pounds in a week, but following it consistently will help the weight come off.

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Sourcing Support

I’m pretty sure that back in the early days of this blog and the beginning of my post-weight loss surgery journey I talked about things I did before the surgery.  Among them was discovering a website community called ObesityHelp.com.  I found the site soon after I decided to seriously consider having surgery, which would have been roughly six months before the actual operation.

The site was an unbelievable resource for me.  It is filled with forums where people of all backgrounds, challenges, journeys and so on share their stories.  There are forums for folks who are having or who have had weight loss surgery – broken out even by the type of surgery.  When I started my research, I’d never heard of the type of surgery I eventually had – a vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG).  Once I found out about VSG, I then started looking deeper into that procedure.  I think that’s what led me to ObesityHelp.com.

Oh, thank goodness!  For months, this was a place where I could read about other people and their journeys.  I could ask questions and benefit from the experience of others.  It was amazing.  The people were enthusiastic, generous with their stories, oh so encouraging.  I went there every night and, if I got scared or anxious or confused, I’d even pop on during the day.  Since I live in a place where in-person support groups are not available, online became a lifeline.

When good friends approached me and said they were considering weight loss surgery, I recommended that they also check out the website in addition to the other research they were doing.  I still do.

So, I don’t remember when or why I stopped frequenting the website and participating in the forums.

Yesterday was a particularly bad food day for me.  There is no rhyme nor reason for it, other than my eating disorder taking over my actions.  Even as I snacked and ate crap that wasn’t on my food plan I felt mad, sad, discouraged and depressed about it.  The emotions then fueled me eating more.  But a big bold mark in the Suckitude column.

I don’t know why I thought to do it, but at some point I walked over to the computer and logged in to ObesityHelp.com.  I cruised the forums and posted a note about what I’ve been experiencing and how I’m not sure what at this stage of the game I should be following as a food plan, how many calories, what ratio of protein to carbs, etc.  I asked for suggestions.

Today I went back on and there were several replies, all with good suggestions and, as important, encouraging words.  I visited more forums on the site and found someone who asked if anyone else post-wls still deals with binge eating disorder and compulsive overeating.  So, here was another place to touch base, to share, and to read the sharing of others.  Then I found a group for people fighting back from regaining some of their weight.

All of this information.  All of this support.  It’s still all right there, where it was before.  My needs have changed and the site is still a wonderful resource. Even the strongest, most knowledgeable of us can benefit from the knowledge and experience of others.

I’m feeling very grateful right now that I went back to the site.   I plan to keep going back.  I was feeling pretty isolated and alone in my struggle.  I don’t feel so alone anymore.

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Food Fidgets

I am fidgety about food today and I don’t know why.  I’m not stressing about anything.  I’m excited about developing a more regular workout routine/effort.  I got enough sleep last night.

Yesterday, I had a terrific acupuncture session, including some work to boost the channel associated with my metabolism.  (It was sluggish.)  I feel great, darn it, so why the compulsive thoughts and desire to eat?  I’ve stayed on track and just finished my planned mid-morning snack.  Still I’m thinking about food more often.  Thinking often leads to false-hunger and wanting.

At least I’m aware of the situation.  It’s when I’m not aware and move directly and swiftly into acting on the compulsion that the day’s plan falls apart.

Right now, instead of going in search of food to augment my snack, I’m going to fill up my water glass and consume some nice cool water instead.

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When You Think You Can’t, You Can!

This morning at 7:25 a.m., I was at the half-way mark of the rowing class and was fairly sure that I wouldn’t make it to the end.  Today’s workout called for 34 minutes of 200 meter intervals with a :10 rest between intervals.  I was doing my best to row 200 meters in a minute’s time but was falling short by a couple of seconds – hitting the 1:04-1:06 range instead.  Each of us in the class wore a sensor that constantly monitored our heart rates and showed us on the wall monitor if we were in the preferred zone of around 80-89% of our maximum heart rate.  The sensor also estimates our calorie burn, based on our current weight, gender and age.

I was doing pretty good at maintaining my heart rate in that golden zone, but as the minutes went on, I started to think more and more that I’d never make it through. During each rest, I stretched my legs in the machine and jiggled my left foot, which seems to want to go numb on me in the middle of the workout.  I gulped water and wiped the rivulets of sweat off of my face, then picked up the handles again to resume rowing when the clock counted down to zero.

Call me determined or stubborn or crazy, but I refused to quit on the workout.  Even if I was blowing out air like a whale, and soaked with sweat, I was not going to give up.  About :20 seconds into each interval, when I thought I couldn’t keep going, I mentally cried bulls**t on myself and powered through.  I’d make myself work harder, trying to get my time down to a minute per 200 meters.

When we hit the ten-minutes-to-go mark, the trainer started giving us regular updates.  “Ten minutes left.  Keep it up.”  “Only seven minutes to go.  You can do it.”  “Five minutes.”  “Three minutes.”  “Try to finish an interval before the time runs out and start another.”

I finished an interval about :20 before the workout ended so I launched into another one, determined to give it my all.  For that last strong effort I hit the red zone with my heart rate at greater than 90% capacity.  “Finish strong!” encouraged our trainer.  I did.  200 meters in :59!  My best time for the whole workout.

So much for thinking I couldn’t.  While others in the class might have done more intervals than I did, I’m not in competition with them.  For one thing, I am often in class with women who are significantly younger than I am and/or who have been at this rowing thing for a lot longer.  When all is said and done, I’m only measuring up to myself and how much effort I put into the workout.  That said, while we recovered and let our heartbeats gradually slow from the peak performance, the trainer ran us through the class’s collective stats.

I was the Zone Master for the class, which meant that I maintained the desired heart rate zone for the most consistent amount of time!  It made me smile.

After wiping down my rowing machine, returning the sensor to the trainer, and guzzling the rest of my water, I made my way out to my car.  I looked down at my hand and realized that I’d worked up a blister at the base of my ring finger.  (Note to self, don’t wear a ring to rowing class and find your workout gloves.)  It doesn’t hurt much and I kind of consider it a mark of accomplishment.  It’s also a great reminder to me throughout the day.  If at any time I’m tempted to overeat or veer wildly off my food plan, I only need to look at that little red blister and remember how hard I worked this morning.

I’m going to take today’s experience with me into the next class and every one after that.  When I think I can’t finish, I know now that I can.  Not only that, with determination, I can finish strong.

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Appreciating the Good

The last couple of months have reminded me, okay, they’ve actually hammered home to me to never take feeling good for granted.  To borrow from Joni Mitchell, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone”.

I felt physically terrific for so many months that when the heel pain started and intensified, making it excruciatingly painful just to walk, I was floored.  For years when I was heavier, I was mostly sedentary.  As I aged, I was sedentary and ached all of the time.  Even when I wasn’t active, I experienced aches and pains.

Losing weight became a physical gift to myself for so many reasons.  Developing actual physical fitness and feeling my chronic soreness fade was amazing.  I grew to love my body’s fluidity, grace, strength and ease.  Seeing true muscle definition made me smile and revel in my ability.

Having that begin to fade as I became less and less active affected me in ways other than physical.  Emotionally and mentally I started to suffer too.  Today, after the plasma rich platelet treatments and the acupuncture, my tissues and tendon have healed and it no longer feels like I’m driving a hot spike into my heel with each step.  My knee still has a few minor creaks and twinges, but the pain in that joint is also greatly reduced.  I can walk without pain again, finally.

I am so grateful.  I value and appreciate this state more than you know.  To be able to practice Tai Chi, walk the dogs, and even do my job lifts my spirits.  I’m reconnecting with my desire to move and exercise more.  Tomorrow is my first full rowing class.  I’m even getting up earlier than usual so I can make the 7 a.m. class.

It’s also been a better week for me food-wise.  I think physically feeling better contributes to reducing my food obsessions and compulsions.  I believe the acupuncture also is having a very positive effect, too.  Eating more responsible portions and making healthier choices overall have come easier to me this week.  It’s important for me to acknowledge this too.

Maybe it’s not that I take things for granted, but more that I don’t take time to sit still, think about the good, and acknowledge it in my life.  I’m going to make it a point to embrace and appreciate the good – every day.  Doing so empowers me and strengthens my foundations.

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Row, Row, Row Your Boat

I stuck to my plan and checked out the rowing class last night.  HoooWow.  What a workout! Because it was my first session, I didn’t participate in the “class”.  Instead, the very nice trainer set me up on a rowing machine, talked about and demonstrated the correct form and had me give it a try.

It took a relatively short amount of time for me to feel comfortable.  The seat moves and the idea is to push back with your legs, lean slightly back, then pull the handle/cable to your chest.  The harder/faster one pulls, the more resistance.  Then after pulling back, you lean forward, slide forward and then repeat the motion.  You inhale going forward and exhale when rowing back.  (Okay, I think that’s what I was doing but I’m really tired tonight and might have confused it in my head.)

Leaning back helps work your abs because you then have to come forward.  This workout engages a number of different muscles if you do it with the correct form.  I almost leaned back too far at first and thought I was going to fall off of the seat, but I recovered.

The women that were there for the organized class were all given sensors to strap to their chests which would monitor their heart rates and show them if they were in the desired zone.  They all logged into the computer and their progress for heart rate and calorie burn were displayed on the wall monitor.  Each day there is a different routine for the class.  Yesterday they were to row to 2000 meters, rest for three minutes, row another 2000 meters, rest as long as they needed and then do a 500 meter sprint.

Since I wasn’t doing a class, the trainer instructed me to row steadily for 10 minutes, take a three minute break, and then row for another 10 minutes.  I had absolutely no idea going in what it would all feel like, if I could do it and, if I could, for how long.  However, I concentrated on maintaining good form, increasing my resistance, breathing, and working it for the full ten minutes.

Thank God for that three minute break!  In those ten minutes, my heart was pumping, I was sweating and, when I stopped for the break, my legs were wobbly.  What a rush!  The break felt terrific as I wiped sweat off of my face and drank the better part of  a liter of water.  Then it was back into form for the next 10 minutes.  This would be the defining chunk, I decided.  If I couldn’t do even 20 minutes of this form of exercise, what would be the point?

Hah! I told myself.  The point would be that if I couldn’t do 20 minutes that night, I would still continue to try and build up to the 20 minutes and then continue to make progress.

Much to my delight, I not only made the 20 minutes, I really pushed the last few minutes so that I could get my total meters over 3500.  I think I could have kept going and made it to the 4000, but the trainer wanted me to stop and assess on my first time out.

He was great.  He checked my progress every couple of minutes, told me when I needed to adjust my form and made sure to tell me when I put it all together and was really doing it right.

When I was done, he gave me some wipes to sanitize the handle and seat and asked me if I needed more water or a towel.  I will admit that my legs felt a bit like jelly when I stood up so I know that I truly gave them a good workout.  The trainer reminded everybody to keep moving for a while so that we wouldn’t stiffen up.

I am delighted to share that even though I was tired after the workout, I was not sore.  My knee didn’t complain and my heel didn’t start to hurt.  Plus, I felt energized in spirit and mentally pumped my fist and gave myself a “Booyah!” for the achievement.

I’d like to hit an actual class this week.  My plan is to commit to two classes a week with a third on weeks that I have time.  To illustrate how serious I am about this, I am seriously considering getting up much earlier than I usually do to take either a 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. class and then running home to shower and change before going to work.

I’ve needed a harder form of exercise to help in my overall fitness and weight loss effort.  I think I’ve found it with rowing.

 

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Rekindling Motivation

I’m annoyed with myself.  Now that my foot is healed, I have no excuse for not getting back to exercising more often.

I’m being lazy.  That’s not acceptable.  I need to be doing much more than I am.  At the same time, I’m really scared of triggering another bout of plantar fasciitis or tearing the tissue again.  I’m also, as I mentioned, being lazy.  It’s like I lapsed into my old slothful ways when I was super heavy and just walking was a challenge.

What I miss most is my excited attitude about being able to move and be much more physically active.  When the world of movement opened up, I experienced joy in my body, in myself.  I’d like to find it again.  I know it hasn’t disappeared.  It’s merely… misplaced.  Every once in awhile I catch a glimpse, like when I swim around snorkeling for an hour or when my friend and I kayaked for a couple of hours.  I haven’t ridden my bike much, but when I do, it’s still a source of enjoyment.

When I was in pain and then undergoing treatment, I couldn’t do Tai Chi.  Oh, I missed it for so many reasons.  I’m glad to be back in class.  Even though I spell myself a little to work my heel and myself back into the routine, whenever I do the moves, I experience contentment and peace, simple pleasure in how easily I move.  (Although I have to work on regaining my balance now that I’m adjusting to doing the moves in sneakers.)

I’ve been able to walk the dogs more regularly.  Today I did workout moves in the pool, including treading water for several minutes, doing several short laps (It’s a small pool so short laps are all I can do.)  I even worked on my triceps, abs and biceps.

I’m also making a commitment to myself — and stating it publicly on the blog — that I’m going to check out rowing classes.  Several friends have tried them and pronounced them great workouts that are fun.  They’re also low impact so my heel and knees shouldn’t be at risk.  I’m shooting for trying the first class tomorrow – provided the evening class isn’t full.  I’m going to call first thing in the morning.

In the meantime, I keep reminding myself that any movement is good movement.  More movement is even better.  I think I just need to keep pushing myself to be active and believe that doing so will rekindle the motivation and lead to me doing even more.

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Eating Choices Rant

Yesterday in between my bike ride and my snorkel trip, I watched Food Network for a while.  I’ve said before that I’m mildly addicted to watching cooking shows.  Some would wonder if this is a good idea for me to so often watch shows that focus on food.  I wonder that sometimes myself.  However, in my defense, I think that I’ve learned more about preparing good, healthy food of greater variety from watching than I would have otherwise.  I think I’m also discerning enough to know when a recipe is something that would be good for me to try or a meal I should stay far, far away from.

I have noticed that most of the shows aren’t focused on cooking healthy.  The chefs like their butter, oil, heavy cream and frying.  Nothing goes unsalted.  It’s all about building flavors, unctuous mouth feel, velvety sauces (more cream and butter), and so on.  Seriously, I get this.  Gastronomes R Us.

So what’s my takeaway as someone who is on a quest to lose weight and change my eating lifestyle from totally unhealthy to healthier?  Well, amid the butter/cream/frying/salting are the wonderful nuggets of information and technique that teach me how to build flavor into my food in ways that don’t require the extra calories.

And, often enough, I find a show where someone does something really cool and tasty with a new vegetable or demonstrates a completely different dish in a way that makes me realize that it wouldn’t be all that difficult for me to try.  There are a few simple truths.  If healthy food doesn’t taste good, nobody wants to eat it.  Good food can still be healthy.

I love watching Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.  On her show, she makes the most wonderful dishes look like they’re easy to prepare.  I won’t pretend that everything she produces on her show falls in the healthy category, but every once in a while she scores for me.  Yesterday, she made kale chips.  Kale chips! Easy as anything to do and so tasty.  Since I have lacinato (aka dinosaur) kale in my fridge, this was an easy dish to replicate for lunch.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread out a few whole kale leaves on a pan.  Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and ground black pepper.  Bake for about ten minutes until crisping up.  Sprinkle with a little parmesan and return to oven until cheese melts.

Kale is a healthy, leafy, dark green vegetable.  Olive oil is a healthier fat. There wasn’t enough oil used to be bad either.  Same thing with the salt and cheese. It was a very tasty snack and, since I had a late lunch, more than enough.  Thank you, Barefoot Contessa.

While I was munching on my crispy kale, Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives aired on Food Network.  I heard that one of the restaurants he would visit is in my home area up in South Jersey so, of course, I was interested.  This restaurant must have opened since I moved down to Florida because I’d never heard of it.  While Guy and I watched, the owner prepared a Pork Belly Reuben sandwich.  (Disclaimer:  I love a good, traditional Reuben.  I don’t eat them very often and when I do, I end up having it over at least two meals because they’re huge.  This helps me keep from feeling guilty over eating them at all.)

(Further disclaimer:  I’ve had pork belly sandwiches (aka porchetta) before, too.  They can be very good.)

Today’s show, however, totally grossed me out.  Pork belly is very fatty.  Ok, so is bacon, but at least it’s crisp fat on bacon and you’re eating it in mostly thin slices.  For this sandwich, the chef cut off four thick — 3/4 of an inch thick at the very minimum — slices of cooked pork belly and grilled them on a flat top.  The camera zoomed in on the meat.  I swear there was a border of uncrisp fat on each slice that was the width of one of my fingernails.

He also slathered butter on the bread and slapped that down to grill.  I think he grilled the kraut too.  He then assembled the sandwich with the fatty bread, melted cheese, grilled kraut, and the thick slices of fatty meat and served it up.

As Guy was eating it, he made a reference to the sandwich requiring a health certificate.  I looked at the sandwich and thought, “Heart attack on a plate.”  I wondered how the hell Guy or anybody could eat it; how anybody could want to.  Then I had a flashback.  I used to be the person who would not only want to, but would devour it in a single meal with a big side of fries, too, please.  The same person who would order a Quarterpounder with cheese, large fries, giant soda and a couple of apple pies.

I’m not judging.  I’m just inexplicably angry right now.  I’m angry that I spent a lot of years eating like that.  I remember when the first McDs opened in our area.  We thought it was fascinating to see burgers coming down a conveyor belt.  Same thing with KFC.  Chicken as the delivery system for eleven deep fried herbs and spices.  I’m royally pissed off for all of the times I binged on overloaded foods of any type and washed them don by guzzling corn syrup-sweetened soda.

My brother went off to college and came back for the holidays with a greater awareness of food and healthy eating.  He gave up eating meat when he was 18.  (He eats seafood, eggs and dairy products but all in moderation.)  He chose to prepare meals with more vegetables, lower fat, greater variety.  He loves ice cream but never overindulges.  I don’t think he puts melted butter on his popcorn.

I wish I’d done the same.  I wish that the effort for me to eat healthier choices in healthier ways without overindulging and being compulsive wasn’t such a damned struggle all the freaking time.  If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.  If wishes were pounds lost, I’d be lower than goal weight.

I can’t get there by wishing.  It takes work, effort.  It takes the damned struggle.    It takes not giving up.  Even when you follow a great day by a not-so-stellar day.  It takes being willing to put the non-stellar days behind you and recommit that the next choice will be a healthy one.

It takes ignoring the unhealthy-for-me food that might taste decadent and delicious like a pork belly reuben, and enjoying the flavor, texture and crunch of a kale chip.

It means making this happen for me.  Every day.

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As you were reading this post did it seem like I switched topics along the way and that the post did not wind up where you thought it might be going in the beginning.

Yeah, me, too.

This is a great example of why I do this blog.  The writing process puts me in touch with things that I might not even be aware that I’m feeling because they’re buried.  I had no idea that when I started writing today I would end up tapping into some deep resentment and anger, but that’s what happened, so I went with it.  To go back and rework the post from the beginning feels like it would be less-than-authentic, so I left it as was.

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No Carb, Low Carb, Carb Cycling

After I had weight loss surgery and food was slowly added back in to my diet (Takes time for the stomach to heal.), my doctor was adamant that I should stay away from carbohydrates, including fruit.  No breads, potatoes, rice, pasta, crackers.  None of it.  All those foods would only impede my weight loss.

I was able to maintain that for a while, but eventually I got fed up.  (Pardon the pun.)   Yes, I know that eating too much of those things can, indeed, slow down weight loss, I think it’s really asking a lot of someone to completely evict those foods from their lives.

It’s doable, trust me, I know this.  Back in 1981 or so, I went a year eating nothing but 9 ounces of protein and a cup of leafy or cruciferous vegetables a day.  I lost 100  pounds, which was great.  However, I no doubt messed up my metabolism and body in the effort.  (It was a medically supervised program, but still, I wouldn’t recommend anything that stringent and restrictive again to anyone.)  Of course, as soon as I stopped doing the program — to be honest when I could no longer force myself to do it and was on the verge of insanity form it — I gained all of the weight back and more.  Yo-Yo dieting — not fun.

Anyway, after doing so well and losing a lot of weight quickly after the surgery, I got to the point where my mind, body and spirit started to rebel against the strict rules.    I just wanted to eat like a “normal” person which meant everything in balance.

I could do without rice and pasta, but, darn it all, I really like bread and just wanted to eat some of it sometimes.  And fruit!  If I was drastically cutting back on chocolate and other kinds of desserts, it became sort of cruel to expect me to not eat any fruit.

Over time, this whole carb struggle thing has really messed with my head.  I don’t have good perspective about them.  If I eat what I call “junk” carbs — white bread, pasta, crackers, white rice — I feel like I have totally blown my efforts.  Then I feel enormous guilt.  This usually leads to me eating more of the stuff because, at that point, if I’ve blown it for the day why stop?

This is not healthy for mind, body or spirit either.

That said, I also rationally and logically know that I’m not going to lose weight if I eat too many carbs, any more than if I eat huge amounts of refined sugar and huge wedges of triple chocolate cake for every meal.  Everything in moderation.

The problem right now is that I don’t trust the “everything in moderation” approach.  Actually, I don’t trust myself to maintain the “in moderation” part day by day and still lose weight.

As I’ve launched myself into this DietBet game for the next four weeks, I’ve been reading everything on the site as well as the blog posts by Heidi and Chris Powell, comments by other dietbetters, etc.  The Powells use a method called carb cycling when they work with their clients on Extreme Weight Loss.  I have not yet ordered their book but from what I read on the blog, they suggest alternating days between low carb days and high carb days with a reward day on Sunday.

A high carb day does not mean go crazy and eat nothing but carbs, but if someone has more than they would on a carb restricted plan, it’s okay.  On the low carb days, cut way back on the junk carbs.

I’m explaining this in a very simple way since I haven’t read up on it extensively, just enough to get the gist.  The idea of carb cycling makes a lot of sense to me, particularly the ability to plan and give myself permission to, wow, have some pasta at dinner one night or half a sandwich at lunch and not feel like I just trashed my health for the rest of my life.

The Powells think that the alternating days process also helps a person stay on their plan.  It’s as if it helps someone talk themselves out of having that cheat carb if they know that the following day is a high carb day and it would be okay.

You probably already guessed that I’m taking carb cycling for a test ride.  Yesterday was a “high carb” day.  A friend and I ate Mediterranean food.  I actually allowed myself to eat some of the pita that was wrapped around the meat I’d ordered.  Shocker of all, I ate some potatoes with my meal.

For today’s “low carb” day, I stayed away from junk carbs and the fruit that I had was on point.  I had good quantity of salad and veggies along with my dinner, too.  I have to admit that a yen for something like bread or rice crossed my mind a few dozen times a day.  When the thought came to me, I considered the issue, what I want and my goals for the day and decided not to give in.  I reminded myself that tomorrow is a “high carb” day and if I want to plan in a little starch of some sort, it’s okay.  I’m not dooming myself to fail.

It’s so important to have a good, healthy knowledge and perspective.  Once I think I’ve screwed up, it’s hard for me to reverse the evil thoughts for the day.  I know as I continue on this weight loss journey, that I really need to keep working on my relationship and thought processes with food.

What’s that old Yogi Berra quote?  90% of the game is half mental.  So it is with weight loss and healthy eating lifestyles.

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