Nourish Your Body Well

38 weeksIt’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change.

Come on. We’ve heard that one before. I insist that my eating plan is not a diet, but many people argue with me that it is. lifestyle changeIn some ways my food plan is much more restrictive than any diet I’ve ever been on. In other ways it is so much more freeing for me than any plan.  If you are interested in the origins of my “cold-turkey” food plan or want more details about what I eat, you can check out the links.

The point is that my plan is about how I feel about food, not how much weight I lose. If I never lose another pound, I would stick to this plan the rest of my life because it feels good.

Through trial and error I found foods that nourish my body well, and when my body is well nourished I don’t have food cravings. Also, I can do wonderful things with my body, like run thousands of miles or walk millions of steps.

Nourishing my body means:

  •  lifestyle change2Feeding it regularly and never starving myself. No matter how much I ate yesterday, I’m not going to make up for it by not eating today.
  • Feeding it real, whole foods always. Nothing with preservatives or artificial crap. Organic when I can.
  • Feeding it nutrients it needs. Getting over my aversion to fats (I cook with olive oil). I eat whole grains. Plenty of protein and all the food groups.
  • Not feeding it trigger foods. For me that means no wheat. No bread, no pasta, no cereal. Those foods cause me to want to eat more and I lose control.

When I do all of this, I find it is much easier to stick to my plan, feel good about myself, and not feel deprived. Food cravings are the worst thing about dieting. I will do anything to avoid those.

Note: I am not a nutritionist, doctor, or psychologist. Everything on this site is based on my personal experience and research and is my own opinion, not fact. My words should not be a substitute for your own research and experience and should never, ever take place of the advice of a professional.

Wow, You Look So “Not Fat”

ambivalentOver the past few weeks I’ve had reasons to see people I haven’t seen in a long while, including some work colleagues from other parts of the country that I only see once or twice a year, a long-time friend who lives in another state, and someone I used to go to school with and haven’t seen in years. At each event I’m greeted with the shocked-surprised comment about my looks and I’m surprisingly ambivalent about it. Sure it is great when someone sees you and says, “Wow, you look fantastic!”

Except there’s a subtext. What I actually hear is, “Wow, you look not-fat!” When the comments come from most men or thin women, they usually follow-up by repeating the sentiment in different words so that I know it isn’t a platitude, but that they really, truly mean it. When the comments come from women who struggle with weight (and occasionally men who struggle) the follow-up is always “How did you do it?” Both sets of comments make me uneasy but it is the latter that makes me the most uncomfortable.

On a scale of 1 to Four Weddings and a Funeral, how uncomfortable do you feel?

On a scale of 1 to Four Weddings and a Funeral, how uncomfortable do you feel?

Here’s the thing: losing weight wasn’t the goal so much as the by-product. I wanted to get away from my food addiction, feel better and stronger, and get healthier. I felt older than my years and tired all the time. That was my original motivation anyway. As time went on I learned more about loving myself and my body and caring for myself. I focused on feeding my body the nutrients it needed, exercising for fun, and being gentle with myself. I try to be my own best friend instead of my own worst enemy. I’m breaking a lifetime of bad habits.

And along the way I lost about 90 lbs. It came off very slowly and at a certain point I stopped losing. (I suspect there is a correlation to running very long distances, but it could be that I’ve achieved my correct natural weight). I’ve been hovering around the same five pounds for the last six months, not gaining and not losing (a heretofore unknown phenomenon) and I’m happier than I’ve ever been, not because I weigh a certain amount but because I don’t really care what I weigh. So how do I respond to the unsolicited comments?

I usually try for a simple “thank you, I feel good,” (move along people, nothing to see) and some of the time that is enough, but most of that time my compliment-er doesn’t want the conversation to end there. How did you do it? is a whole, long conversation. If I’m dealing with an acquaintance, I usually stick with something like “healthy eating and exercise” which has the advantage of shutting down he conversation, but makes me feel like I’m feeding into the system of body policing – as if the goal to be thin is understood and accepted by all. If I don’t speak out, I’m part of the problem, aren’t I?

dear dietSometimes I say, “I gave up dieting and started focusing on self-acceptance,” which has the benefit of being truer, but almost always launches a much longer conversation than I really want to get into. I’ve told a few close friends, “If you want to know more you should read my blog,” and a few have, but most are really looking for easy answers about what I’m eating and how frequently I’m exercising.

I think I look great because I’m happy. I smile more. I get more sleep. I worry less. I still have lines and wrinkles and varicose veins (when did they show up??) and bunches of fat around my belly, but I feel strong and empowered and whole. So why, then do comments about how good I look invariably make me feel that it is just because I’m not-so-fat anymore and (for now) am fitting into what is “normal” and “acceptable.” And why does that make me feel so uncomfortable?

Happy “Eat Until You Burst” Day

cornI never used to like Thanksgiving. It was the first day of the food-triggering season. The day when diets go out the window until your New Year’s resolution gets you back on track. The whole purpose of Thanksgiving (in my mind) was to eat everything you can until you can’t eat anymore. Plus, when I was growing up somebody (often it was me) would have a meltdown over something at every holiday.

Over the past 10 years or so, a few things have changed, and now I love Thanksgiving:

turkey-trotFor one thing, now I am in charge of cooking the turkey, which really free’s my mother up. It is a win-win. I have only one job, and I’m good at it. My mother can focus on the more elaborate dishes and many of them can be finished ahead of time. She always gets to run a race Thanksgiving morning (she is out there right now: Go Mom!!!)

Also, I started a tradition of decorating my Christmas tree with my daughter on Thanksgiving. We play Christmas music and run the yule log video on the tv. We start planning out our gift-giving for the season. We make plans for things to do over Christmas break (my last job always closed the week between Christmas and New Year’s). It was a time to look forward to all the great parts of the season.

Finally, last year I realized that you could enjoy Thanksgiving without overdoing it:

The first part is to stick to my food plan for breakfast and lunch. I forgo the bagel breakfast with family and stick to my yogurt, apple, and almond. Eating anything off program early in the day will derail me, as I learned last Christmas. I’ve stuck to this all this year and it makes a big difference in how I feel about myself and the whole day.

I also make sure to not skip lunch. Some families have T-day dinner at mid-day, but we don’t eat until about 5. In the past I wouldn’t eat because I knew I would be eating sooo much for dinner. I’d get to the dinner table starving, which is counter-productive to eating healthy and making choices. You just want to eat anything and everything.

We do lots of appetizers at our house, so I focus on the ones that are whole foods that nourish: Butternut squash soup, shrimp, and veggies dipped in salsa or hummus. I sit as far away from chips and cheese and crackers as is possible.

turkeyTurkey is one of the best parts of the day, (I make a great turkey) and it is a healthy entrée. Surround that with green beans and sliced almonds, carrots with onion, and a delicious salad. I avoid any vegetable with cream sauce, cheese topping, or marshmallow. I love (love) stuffing, so I choose that over potatoes (both sweet and mashed).  I know bread is a trigger for me, so I keep my stuffing serving very small. I I don’t really like cranberry sauce, so I skip that. The important thing for me is to have a plan. I know before I sit down what I will and won’t eat.

And I enjoy dessert. I’m looking forward to it right now! My mother makes the best pies. But here too, it is all about the plan. I’ve decided I will eat and enjoy a piece of pie. One piece. Not a sliver, that will make me feel deprived, but not a giant piece. And I will eat it slowly and enjoy every bite without guilt.

So I’m excited about today. I will share with loved ones, enjoy some great food, and feel good about myself. I have a plan and that is empowering to me. I also know that tomorrow will be back to my food plan. Today’s enjoyment isn’t a derailment, but rather part of my process. How do you handle the holidays?

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Post holiday update: A great day overall. Tree is up. Turkey came out great. I ate a lot, walked a little, and enjoyed myself overall. So tired, so happy. Hope your Thanksgiving was great!

The Opposite of Vacation

facepalmcatTo all those who have been reading my blog this past year, I apologize for being absent this past month. I’d like to say that my absence was due to some wonderful, personal experience like an extended vacation on a tropical island with no Internet, but the truth is, I’ve just been very (VERY) busy and something had to give. Unfortunately for the past month “what gives” was my blogging. (And TV, I’ve watched almost no television for the past month, which is very unusual for me.) I tried giving up housework, but after a few days I couldn’t function and had to give up sleep just to get my house back in order.

The good news is that I’ve been busy with mostly good things. I am lucky enough to have a job I love, a large wonderful family, and a daughter who, at 20, still thinks she needs me. Despite all these crazy obligations, I have tried very hard to stick to some of my own personal commitments to myself. I have mostly been successful with sticking to my food program and my step goal. I will work on my October update later, when I have time to look at my actual numbers, but I’ve been pretty good at getting in my 8,000 daily steps, and running 3 times per week.

But without the blog grounding me, I find it getting harder and harder to motivate myself. The accountability is gone. I still get in some tweets in on a regular basis, but it isn’t the same thing. With the weather getting colder, pushing myself out the door to workout takes a lot more willpower, and some days it is easier to jus say, “eh? whatever!”

I left a full bowl of candy outside my door. This is what was left when I came home. Srsly??

I left a full bowl of candy outside my door. This is what was left when I came home. Srsly??

And the food issues are starting to get harder too. I’m mostly on program, but as I’ve explained before, mostly is my actual undoing. I felt this most acutely over Halloween weekend. It started with a slice of NY pizza and a handful of candy corn, which would have been fine, but ended up with a bag full of mini candies the trick-or-treaters left me.

I’ll be honest, some of my recent 5 mile runs were motivated more by the thought of some extra food I ate (or planned on eating) rather than the joy of exercises. This is dangerous for me (for reasons I’ve explained) so now I feel like I need to nip this in the bud. Which means somehow getting back to my roots.

I started with the food first. I went back to strict “cold turkey” status, and after a few days the cravings and anxiety subsided. Next, I started focusing my last few runs on enjoying the run, rather than focusing on how fast I was running. That helped considerably. Yesterday’s five-mile run was a much slower pace, but I enjoyed it more and didn’t feel like I’d been run over after I was done.

So food, √
exercise √

All that was left was accountability. I started by stepping on the scale for the first time in a month. I don’t know what I expected (probably a 5 lb gain) or how I would feel about it, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn I had lost 2 lbs. That caused me to re-evaluate myself a little. Remember, this isn’t about weight loss, but feeling in control. If I never lose another pound, I need to keep doing this to stay healthy and in control of my life. I know that sticking to my plan absolutely helps me feel this control, but now I know that I can meander off the path and not completely lose it.

goalsSo back to accountability: If the scale isn’t what I need to be accountable, what is? And that is why I’m sitting here writing this blog post. Telling my truth to anyone who is interested enough to read it. And so I’m going to have to jettison something else in my life for a while (not sure what) because I think I need this blog as much as I need my yogurt and almonds every morning and my 8,000 steps.

Stop Calling Yourself Fat

This one is wistful, like she is waiting for something that isn't going to happen. Also, purple is my favorite color.

So my mother sees me in my new jeans (finally got some clothes that fit) and says, “You have to stop calling yourself fat.”

I’m not going to do that for three reasons:

One, I am fat. This is scientific truth. Perhaps compared to my former size (i.e. this time last year) I appear fitter and thinner, but objectively, I still have enough fat on me to comfortably say I’m fat.

Now, I personally think BMI is just about the worst way to evaluate someone’s body, but let’s just use it since that is what practically every doctor and health organizations use. (Even though they are all wrong!). According to BMI, I’m in the “Overweight”category, but only barely. I would have to lose 30 lbs to make it into the “normal” category. (Want to personally dispute BMI? Check out the Photographic Height/Weight Chart. It’s pretty cool)

Want more proof, I wear “plus” sizes. I don’t have to shop in the plus size store anymore, but according to industry standards plus size is size 12 and up. I just barely squeeze into those 12 Old Navy pants, and on top I’m much bigger (always will be). (Brand by brand there is a lot of discrepancy, so I may be anywhere from a 12 to a 16 in pants.) The dress I wore this weekend was an 18 and fit just perfectly.  It is just how I’m put together.

Anyway, that isn’t the main thing I was going to write about.

Two, I will always be fat. Regardless of my size, my weight, my waist circumference, I will always be fat. It is actually dangerous for me to think of myself as anything but fat.

This is something I decided about a year ago when I started this whole lifestyle change. My best example to explain my thinking is this: If someone is an alcoholic, they are always an alcoholic, even if they don’t drink. Even after they haven’t had a single drink in 25 years, they will still describe themselves as an alcoholic, because  to do otherwise is dangerous for their sobriety.  Now you can argue that I’m using the wrong word, but for me the word fat describes my essential, internal being-ness. And to start to describe myself (or even think of myself) as anything other than fat is a danger to my health.

I’m not focused on how many pounds I lose each week, I focus on how many miles I can walk or run. I don’t care about what size I fit into (unless the clothes are actually falling off my body) but rather that I’m fueling my body enough to be strong, healthy, and productive. I need to keep doing that, regardless of my size.

Finally, one other thought.

JKRowling-560x375Three, what’s so bad about fat anyway?

I want to reclaim the word fat. I’ve been following a lot of body love and fat activist bloggers, and listening to what they say. One of the big take-aways is that fat has become this terrible thing, the worst thing someone can say about you. Also, fat shaming and denying people rights based on weight is still considered okay. There is something really wrong with society that they needed

to do a study to prove that shaming people about their weight is harmful.

I was recently reading a FB thread about the Megan Trainor song. Someone wrote “I want to like the song, but I don’t think it we should send the message to young girls that it is ok to be overweight.” We are making a little headway, but this is the prevailing opinion in society. So, for the record:

  1. Being fat doesn’t mean you are unhealthy. Not being fat doesn’t mean you are healthy.
  2. Even if being fat did mean you are unhealthy (which it doesn’t, see #1) that is no one else’s business.
  3. Telling people they are fat doesn’t make them less fat. In fact, it probably makes them fatter. (see link to study, above)

If you want more, Ragan Chastain at Dances with Fat says it better than I do, and in much better depth.

Cold Turkey

Starting in Nov, 2013 I got very, very fed up with everything related to food and diet. I couldn’t (just could not) bear to start one more diet. But my eating was getting out of control. It wasn’t that I felt I needed to or wanted to lose weight (I have long given up on that pipe dream) but that I needed to control my food addiction.

Note: I am not a nutritionist, doctor, or psychologist. Everything on this site is based on my personal experience and research and is my own opinion, not fact. My words should not be a substitute for your own research and experience and should never, ever take place of the advice of a professional. 

cold_turkey

Where does this expression even come from?

Food addiction is like, yet not like, other addictions. Some people may be offended that I compare food addiction to drug addiction, alcoholism, gambling, or smoking. I can kind of see their point, but there are many similarities. I am not a counselor or psychologist, but it seems to me that the loss of personal power to the addiction is common to all types of addiction, for example. When you do something you absolutely don’t want to do, knowing there will be dire consequences, but can’t help yourself, that is addiction.

Another way food addiction is like other addictions is that it is rarely about the substance involved. There are many physiological and psychological factors that contribute to the addiction. Just dealing with the addiction alone will rarely get long-term results. You need to address the underlying issues if you truly want to break free of your addiction.

Food addiction is not like other addictions, however by one pivotal fact: You can’t stop eating all together. Most addictions require physically breaking free from the abused substance or action. For some addictions it is recommended to go “cold turkey” or by gradual release by cutting back little by little or using alternative medications as a replacement. But you can’t do that with food. You can’t just stop eating all together.

foodpostitMy original plan was to go as close to “cold turkey” for food as I could. I thought if I could just get away from eating for a while I could get myself under control. I started to research different food replacement programs such as energy bars and shakes. The more I read, the less impressed I was. Most of the meal replacements, even supposed low-calorie ones, were filled with sugars, chemicals, and unnecessary fats. I didn’t think these foods would make me feel any better than what I was already eating.

My next thought was to just simplify. I would focus only on a few key foods that would provide me the requisite nutrition I needed. Again, lots of research led me to a few conclusions. The foods had to be whole, natural foods, not processed foods. That had to be easy to make and be portable so that I could fit them into my crazy life.  They had to cover all the nutrients that I would need and balance into the right amount of calories, proteins, fats, and carbs. They had to be naturally proportioned so that I would eat the right servings. They couldn’t be too tasty or I would overeat them. They couldn’t be too un-tasty (is that a word) or I wouldn’t be able to keep it up.

I love self-serve frozen yogurt. My trick is to put fresh fruit in first and then top with yogurt. This keeps my yogurt portion lower than my fruit portion. Plus coats the fruit with yummy yogurt.

I love self-serve frozen yogurt. My trick is to put fresh fruit in first and then top with yogurt. This keeps my yogurt portion small, and coats the fruit with yummy yogurt.

Once I had my list of foods, the plan was to stick to the program for two weeks to “detox” and then figure out what I wanted to do next. I had a vague idea of going back to weight watchers or something like that once I was “on track.”  That never happened.

After a month I was surprised at how easy it was to stick to the plan. After two months I began to think this might be a long-term solution for me. I have massaged and changed my plan over time, altered my foods slightly, and even allowed certain types of “cheats” that don’t completely derail me (hello, frozen yogurt).

It has now become a way of life. Every day I eat the same breakfast and lunch. For dinner, I allow more variety, but focus on key foods and stick to my rules: whole foods, low-fat proteins, fresh veggies, limited high-fiber carbs, avoid wheat, sugar, and processed foods.

I am almost never hungry and rarely tempted to cheat. Occasionally I will have something not on the list (homemade pizza, ice cream cake, etc) but it is rare, the servings are small, and I make sure the treat is worth it.

This is not a diet. I try not to use that word. This is a way for me to deal with my personal food addiction and issues. The result has been, I feel healthier, I have more energy, I am sick less, and I feel empowered. I also know how easy it would be to slide back into my addictive habits. I am not cured. I am convinced that I must stay this course for the rest of my life, or risk falling back into the world where food controls me.


			

Unit Foods

I have said a few times on this blog how I just couldn’t deal with another diet again and maybe I’ve been a bit negative about my time on Weight Watchers. The truth is, I once lost over 100 lbs on Weight Watchers. I kept it off for years, too, until I didn’t and gained it all back (plus a little extra). For me, the problem with WW is that it becomes a game: What can I get away with and still lose weight. Also, it focuses so much on the weight loss, which becomes counter-productive. You can only maintain that for so long.

Technically a cookie is a unit food. You aren't going to eat one and a quarter cookies are you? Let's be clear: Just being a unit food doesn't make it healthy. It just makes it easy to measure.

Technically a cookie is a unit food. You aren’t going to eat one and a quarter cookies are you? Let’s be clear: Just being a unit food doesn’t make it healthy. It just makes it easy to measure.

I did learn some helpful things in WW, that I continue to use today. Going to all those meetings, I learned a lot about what is in foods. I had this one leader, Margot, that I loved. She was the only leader I ever met that made sense to me. Among her many words of wisdom, she taught me the term “unit food.”

unit food is a food that comes in single serving size. You don’t have to measure or weigh. You just get one unit. Food’s that are naturally unit foods are apples, eggs, and hot dogs. While it is possible to eat half of an apple or two eggs, you don’t accidentally consume an extra 2 oz of these foods when you serve yourself. The advantage of unit foods is you aren’t fooling yourself.

yogurtSome foods can be purchased as unit foods. For example, the Fage® yogurt that I eat every single day comes in single serve containers. I also purchase frozen yogurt (Healthy Choice) and Sabra Hummus in single serve. Frequently these foods are more expensive, because you are paying for the wrapping. However, it is worth it. When I buy a large (multi-serve) container of yogurt, for example, I find it is a struggle to make sure I have the proper serving. Some days I’m a little more generous than others. So it is better for me to pay a little extra and have a serving I can just grab-and-go.

Some foods aren’t available as unit foods or are too expensive that way. Whenever I can, I try to make my own unit foods. For example, I buy a big bag of almonds and measure out 1 oz into snack-size plastic bags. I also make a big pot of rice and beans every week, and then measure out single servings into plastic containers.  Technically they aren’t unit foods, but once I’ve measured and sealed them, they sort of are. It isn’t likely that I’m going to open up another plastic container and eat a few bites of rice and beans. If there was a big pot or bowl of it, I probably would, but once it’s been sectioned out, I pretty much can stick to the sections.

All of this is to say, you need to find tricks that work for you to get control over the food. For me, it’s unit foods and eating the same thing for breakfast and lunch every single day. For you it might be something else.

The “Not Eating” Boomerang

I admit it. I had popcorn for dinner this week. Not the best choice, but I really, really love popcorn. (no butter)

I admit it. I had popcorn for dinner this week. Not the best choice, but I really, really love popcorn. (no butter)

It happened a few times this month. I ate a sensible breakfast, planning on a reasonable lunch, but work interferes and the next chance I have to think about food is ten hours later. (This is not hyperbole; my days can get long.) Or I managed to get my breakfast and lunch in, but dinner somehow escapes me and it is very late (after 8 or 9 pm) before I even think of dinner.

The consequences are both expected and unexpected:

  • Surprise! I’m starving. It feels like small animals trying to gnaw out of my gut. I don’t feel hungry while I’m preoccupied, but the minute I’m in my car it hits me hard as if all the day’s hunger must erupt at once. Waiting until I can get to a healthy meal is not an option. I need food now!
  • Mentally I feel entitled to eat more. Don’t you think I earned something extra. Seconds? Sure! I can afford the calories.
  • Physically I’m wiped out. I feel sluggish and often a little depressed. I get this “I don’t want to do anything but watch tv and check my Facebook” attitude. This becomes a vicious cycle.
  • When I do eat (eventually) I eat too fast and end of feeling bloated. Even if I don’t eat extra food or bad foods (which I obviously deserve) I feel as if I have.

Hunger is the enemy of healthy habits.  When I don’t nourish my body, everything else starts to fall apart. I make poor decisions, I get depressed, I feel like all of my efforts have been wasted. Sometimes I find that I focus so much on my workouts that I forget that this really started because of my relationship with food. The exercise is important and empowering, but without changing my food habits, I can’t really expect to get healthier. And if I don’t eat well, I won’t have the energy or the desire to exercise. It’s all linked.

For me, food is about fueling my body to get it to work better. Through trial and error I’ve learned which foods work well (lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, high-fiber, non-wheat carbs) and which foods hinder (sugar, wheat, processed foods) my recovery. So, this week I’m working very hard to get back to eating good foods and on a normal schedule. I know what to do; I just have to stick with it.

I realize that when I say hunger I’m coming from a place of privilege. There are 842 million people in the world that live with real, literal hunger every day. Just writing about my own hunger seems trivial and insensitive.  I had to stop in the middle of writing this post  to look into organizations that help people with real hunger. I ended up donating online to Feeding America, which is a highly rated non-profit devoted to helping 37 million Americans every year. 

Recovery

Thanks for reading!

Thanks for reading!

First, let me start by saying you are reading my 100th blog post. I started this blog in 2010, and was very active for a while, but then kind of dwindled down to one post a month and then one post a year… Until I started up this past December with renewed vigor and excitement. I’ve posted more in the past 7 months than the previous 3 years put together. And, I truly appreciate everyone who bothers to read my musing.

I have one close friend (IRL) who surprised me recently by telling me that he reads every post. He rarely likes or comments but he is a faithful reader. He has been with me through all my ups and downs, when I took Fen-Phen, when I lost over 100 lbs on Weight Watchers, when I gained the 100 back and then some, and for all the “diets” and exercise programs over my lifetime.  “So what makes this different?” he asked me the other day, and I had to think about it for a minute.

I told him that the fundamental difference that I could see was that this wasn’t about losing weight, or fitting into a size, or any of my old goals. I really was just trying to break free from a lifetime of being controlled by food. I talked to him about the way I came up with my new food plan and how over time I have managed to be more in control. I talked about these steps I’ve taken to get here: the emphasis on self-love, my new approach to exercise, and the ways I deal with food. I also told him how I never, ever go hungry any more. I make sure I’m always nourished and this has had so many positive side effects.

I don't have a 12-step program. It's more like 40 steps. And I keep going up and down the same ones.

I don’t have a 12-step program. It’s more like 40 steps. And I keep going up and down the same ones.

And after listening for a bit he said, “It sounds like you are in recovery.” After thinking for a minute I replied, “Yes, yes I guess I am in recovery.” My issues with food are very much an addiction. I have had to learn new patterns of dealing with food, because unlike other addictions, you can’t go “Cold Turkey” with food (unless starving is part of your game plan).  I’m not necessarily doing a 12-step program, I have had what I call mini-awakenings on my journey which are just as critical to my recovery.

Here’s the thing about recovery: there is no end. It isn’t like at some point I’m going to reach a place where I can go back to normal food, any more than an alcoholic can have one or two social drinks or a smoker can have one cigarette at a party (believe, me I know how that story ends).  Sure, it might work sometimes. Or for a while. But little by little the old habits come back and the next thing you know you are eating Ben & Jerry’s by the pint and having a bag of Sour Cream & Onion Ruffles for dinner. Wait, what?

The line between in control and out of control is so thin as to be almost invisible. I have my safety foods (yogurt, almonds, rice & beans) and my splurge foods (peanut butter, frozen yogurt, pea soup, popcorn). When I eat these foods I do so without anxiety and without really thinking. They are pre-measured, contained, and manageable.

But then there are the questionable foods… Like  the fish I had the other night. The menu said pan-seared tilapia, but when it came it was breaded with nuts. Or the pizza my daughter and I made the other day (that’s a whole other post). These fall outside the program, but are they allowed? Do they follow the rules? There is an anxiety with each food decision. Will this choice send me into a food spiral I can’t climb out of? Or will it just be a little diversion to an otherwise bland and repetitive food program? When have I strayed too far?

That’s the problem with coming up with your own recovery program. There’s no guide-book or list of rules to follow. You have to make up your own rules and figure out if they are working.

50 Pound Milestone

I just want to run faster than a bear...

I just want to run faster than a bear…

It is a weight watcher trick, to lift something that weighs the same number of pounds as you lost. 50 lbs is like a ten-year old kid, right? 50 pounds is the maximum my luggage can weigh when I fly. That’s a lot of pounds!

Let me start by saying my goal isn’t to get thin and weight is only one of the many markers I’m using for success. Still, I can’t help feeling good about the loss of over 50 pounds.

For one thing, I’m stronger now. I can run farther and faster, and my tragically weak ankles can hold me up better with less weight to drag around.  For another thing, the pounds I lost were fat, but I’m building up muscles. I can feel them, especially in my legs, which are stronger every week. I’m not as strong as I’d like to be, but I’m getting there.

Another thing is that I don’t feel like I’m fighting every minute about food. Talk about feeling stronger!! For most of my life I have fought with food. Most of the time food wins, or eventually wins. When I have dieted (what a nasty word) I would fight with myself about food cravings and eating foods I don’t like. I could hold out sometimes for days, or weeks, or even months, but it would get harder and harder and eventually I would cave.

This time is different. I have cleansed my body of the foods that hurt me, and nourish myself with enough foods to run and work and play and live. It is a whole new experience.

I have always thought that my natural state of being was fat, which is why whenever I stopped dieting I quickly returned to the weight I was before. That I had to struggle for anything less than obesity. I’m starting to rethink this now. I now think the foods I ate were making me sick and obesity might be the symptom of the disease.  I’m slowly figuring out which foods are the culprits, through trial and error.

I don’t know what my natural weight will be.  I’m not going to starve myself or do anything rash to get thin. I’m committed to eating the foods that nourish me and forsake any foods that damage me as long as I feel healthy and strong and not hungry and weak. If I lose weight in the process, that can only be a positive. If at some point my weight levels out, I’m still going to keep to this program because for the first time in my life I feel that I am in control of what I’m eating, rather than the food controlling me.

Let’s just see how it goes, okay?