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This “Fullness” Thing March 15, 2009

So I know that the mantra of mindful eating (and also Weight Watchers, BTW) is that one is supposed to “eat when hungry, stop when full.” Sounds simple, right? But for me it is one of the most difficult things to grasp.  I guess for so many years I did no such thing – I ate for ten million other reasons than hunger, and went way beyoooooond fullness, that it’s like trying to learn how to knit on a unicycle.

Last night we went out to this fantastic Italian restaurant. (daughter was out with friends so I skipped the pot pie thing for another time) I was all prepared. I’d had a fairly light lunch. It was after my weigh in. I’d accumulated many “activity points” from my nice long walk/run.  I told myself I’d have plenty of points to spare, so while I was not going to pig out, I would relax. And yet try to remain mindful.

When we got there, I was thirsty. I drank a big glass of sparkling water with lemon.  I had a teeny little piece of bread about the size of a biteful. This restaurant brings things Sicilian-style, which means family style and everyone shares. I didn’t have a problem with that, in fact I thought it sounded like a good option. Appetizer one arrived: eggplant rollatini, which I adore. I divided it into four little sections, each one about two bites.  I took one little section and thoroughly savored it.  Lovely. Then we had an antipasti plate. I had a wee little strip of prosciutto, and about a tablespoon’s worth of marinated bell pepper and eggplant. Nummy.

But then, guess what? I was full. Or at least satisfied. I think my stomach was so full of bubbly water, that those five BITES of food were literally enough. But our entrees hadn’t arrived. I started feeling bummed out, like knowing I was supposed to stop there, but not wanting to miss the main courses. I was confused. I didn’t know what to do.

The main stuff arrived: homemade linguini with clams, and a big tureen of mussels. I’m sure I had enough points to enjoy both of these things. I really wanted to taste them. I took about 1/2 cup of linguini, about four clams and four mussels. You know how big clam and mussel meat is? It’s TINY. Probably totalling about three tablespoons. Max. The linguini was absolutely divine, but as I ate I was conflicted.

Mind you, I was much LESS full than I ever would have been normally – I was just MORE full than “satisifed,” which would’ve stopped after the appetizers.

So while I loved the dinner (I really, really did) I also felt distracted and confused by what I was “supposed” to be doing.

I guess I’ll figure it out someday, and be able to eat in relative peace.

Meanwhile, my copy of the Zen of Eating arrived in the mail. So far, I am loving it.  I think it might give me some help with this area.

 

Give Up, or Step it Up March 12, 2009

I decided, in the interest of honesty, to adjust my weight-loss meter downward to reflect reality. It wasn’t just a temporary bump, apparently. This two pound leap has lasted more than a week so I have to call it real. However, the one pound bump from yesterday is gone. :-)

Yesterday was a real turning point for me. I have been at this point so many times before, and so often I take it as a cue to sigh heavily, (no pun intended), throw in the towel and say, “I just can’t lose weight.” It actually sort of astounds me now to think that I believed it would magically melt away with a minimum of effort. But then again, there are countless promises out there that this is exacty what will happen.

So yesterday I had the choice to either wring my hands and give up, which would lead to me gaining all the weight back, OR I could step it up. I decided to step it up. Today I went to the gym and did 45 minutes on the elliptical, including one nice hard sprint, followed by 2000 meters on the erg machine just for extra. I was GOING to go to a yoga class after that but instead decided I’d be better off going to the shoe store.

I have super flat, painful arches in my feet. The first 15-20 minutes of any workout, even plain walking or using the elliptical, is excruciating for my feet. My running shoes, which were once lovely, are now three years old and basically I might as well strap a couple of pancakes on my feet. They’re worthless, and yesterday my trainer told me very sternly that I am doing damage to myself by working out in these shoes. I got some new ones. They feel amazing. I can’t wait to work out tomorrow!

After getting my shoes, I realized I had not eaten much anything yet. I decided to take myself out to breakfast. This place across from the shoe store advertised breakfast for $6, including eggs and something mysterious called mamounia, or “middle eastern cereal.” I ordered steamed eggs with mushrooms. It came with a bagel (which I did not touch), and a little bowl of this lovely looking brown hot cereal. I thought, if it’s brown it must be healthy. (OK, are you laughing at me yet?) I gingerly took a spoonful. It was sooooooo good! Mmm, I love mamounia! Whatever it is! Finally I asked the waitress, “What is in this?” and she said, “Cream of wheat, cottage cheese, butter and brown sugar!” Ohhh. So that’s why it was so delicious. Thankfully I only had 3 spoonfuls, which was actualy quite satisfying. Saved by mindful eating. I murmured a little prayer of appreciation to the mamounia and then did not touch it again.  I noticed I was not totally wild about the eggs, but ate them anyway because they were the only thing on my plate I could eat. I ate about half. I hate throwing away money (and I was already throwing away the bagel and the mamounia) and I knew if I didn’t eat it, I would be really hungry pretty soon. So I ate half. What would mindful eaters do in this situation? Somebody tell me.

 

Could Have Eaten Three Cheesecakes Today March 6, 2009

…. but I didn’t.

It was one of those uber-emotional over the top days when the stress level is SO HIGH and in the “bad old days” – um, just 10 weeks ago? I would have just been inhaling everything in sight.  There was major drama going on at work, my blood pressure was (probably) hitting the roof, I was extremely concerned about a loved one, and I was this close to having my head explode.

I work right next to a 7-11. Which is the perfect source for out of control emotional eating.  Haagen Dasz bars! Skor bars! 7-11 hot dogs!! (ha) More junk than you can stuff in your mouth.

I really love my job. I love the people I work with. I love the work I do. And so for me to have a “bad day at work” is like one in a million. But today I was just triggered and set off and I was a basket case. Then I was worried about somebody that I love, and that was hard too. (understatement)

I didn’t have breakfast because I was rushing too much. Then I got to work and dealt with drama for several hours. My mom, who had come to the office with me (she’s a volunteer there) wanted to stop and get a drive-through burger. I almost got nothing for myself and then thought better of it and got a drive-through chicken salad. Which turned out to be a great thing.  She sat at my desk and ate the burger and fries while I inhaled the fumes.

After all the drama, I ate my salad which was actually very very good. I had a plan to visit a friend this afternoon so I left my office. I walked past the 7-11 to go to my car.  The junk food was calling my name. LOUDLY. I did not have time to sit down and Write Out My Feelings. I made myself steadily KEEP WALKING and felt in my pocket. Voila, there was a sugar free caramel hard candy!! It saved me. I sucked on that thing til it disappeared. I drove to my friends house. She gave me a cup of tea, a cut up apple and some tangerine (she is a good good friend!). I told her all my woes, and while I was talking to her I got a relieving text message from my loved one.  Things took a turn for the better.  She helped me get more grounded regarding the work situation, and when I left her house I felt a million times better.

I came home and had a nice healthy dinner with my family.

The only “down” thing is I did not exercise today. Trainer said I could have one rest day, not two. But now I am post-dinner, and I do not think I can do anything comfortably. I will just have an extra vigorous workout in the morning.

I am very relieved and actually SHOCKED that I did not overeat today. I really think I might be learning some new ways of coping.

Amazing.

 

How Much Does that Food Weigh? March 3, 2009

I never, ever thought I would buy or use a food scale. I had many reasons for this: the scale seemed expensive, it seemed like an excessive/obsessive thing to do, I was afraid that the scale would tell me I needed to eat much, much less than I wanted to, and so on.

But this week I got to the point where I was actually curious. About what my food weighed. And I felt like this was a reasonable reason to go ahead and buy a scale.

I used it for the first time tonight. We were having flank steak. To stay within my points range for the day, I was allotting myself 3 ounces of steak. First, I eyeballed it, using the visual “deck of cards” estimated size. Then I set up the scale and weighed. Hah. My portion weighed FOUR ounces. I was all, “How about that.” It looked like a very small amount. I was not upset, but I was surprised. Hmph. No wonder.  I started substituting and taking away until it read 3.0 oz. What I ended up with was two strips of steak.  Normally I can easily put away eight strips, no problem. So yeah. Portion control has definitely been my Achilles heel.

But my dinner was great. I had the steak, plus an extremely delicious mache salad with blush wine vinaigrette and slivered almonds and feta crumbles. Mache is a very delicate, round-leafed lettuce, almost like clover. It’s delicious.  I also had a fancy-shmancy shrimp and avocado cocktail that I got from Biggest Loser trainer Jillian’s book. It was yummy. All very yummy. And in the end I was quite satisfied, almost fullish.

How about THAT. I actually used a food scale, and the world did not come to an end.

 

Can Blogging Save Me from Eating? February 12, 2009

(wrote this yesterday while traveling, and the answer to the title is YES)

I’m on the first leg of my trip. I just landed in the airport of the city where my birth mother lives. (back story: I was adopted as a baby, found her when I was in college, and have had a rollercoaster relationship with her for the past 28 years) It used to be when I stopped in her city for a layover, she would come to the airport, if only for an hour, and would bring me goodies to eat. Talk about food associations! She knew I loved cheese and once brought me an adorable little cheese basket with all sorts of fancy cheese and crackers. Once, she came with my (half) brother and his newborn baby. I have so many associations of very intense, brief meetings in this building; ones that had my adrenaline pouring through my body and leaving me limp on the next flight. I have two hours to lay over here this afternoon. As soon as I stepped into the gate area, I was hit with a rush of emotion and memory. And of course I immediately wanted to eat. And drink (alcohol). I rarely drink and when I do drink, it’s very little, so you know this has to be an extreme situation. I wandered into one restaurant and glanced at the menu briefly. It looked too dangerous so I left. I wouldn’t be able to trust myself to order a salad or something reasonable.

I’m sitting in an isolated little area with some chairs, in between the moving walkways. I have an apple and a mandarin orange in my bag, plus a container of yogurt that smells like it might have exploded in the flight. I’ll eat the orange and see if I feel better. It does help to write it. To write it, write it instead of eating it. This is one of the biggest triggers I have, my relationship with this woman. Breathe. Breathe. Look for the orange.

Aw crap, my yogurt broke. My apple and orange are covered in it. I have to go to the restroom and rinse them off. I wish I had my Beck book with me. I have it but it’s in my checked suitcase. OK, what would she say? You’re not going to die from these emotions. Just feel it. I feel like I am five years old and I am struggling to understand why my mama does not love me. Just got a text message from my daughter. She is holding me up. I can get through this without eating. I have to go wash off my fruit because I really AM hungry.

Epilogue: I ate my orange and some cheese. I talked (texted) with my daughter. She brought me back from the edge. I cried. I wrote. I paced around. And GUESS WHAT? The emotions passed. They really did. And I did not, for once in my life, turn to food for solace.

Ten gold stars, baby.

 

The Company We Keep February 7, 2009

I was thinking about the fact that I ate more than I should/wanted to when I was on that boat, and my husband was not around.  When he is with me I worry about what he’s thinking and end up eating less, or more healthfully. To impress him? That’s not good.

On the other hand, when I am with my mom I tend to give myself permission to eat everything in sight and to make the worst choices, because that is what she does.  She definitely played a large role in my habit of eating to squelch emotion, eating to celebrate, eating when sad or bored or tired or depressed or angry. I’m not blaming her, I’m just saying… this is where it started, and how I learned to pass it on to my poor unwitting next generation as well. Even now (or maybe especially now) she will always choose the richest, meatiest, chocolatiest, thing on the menu. Maybe because she is in her 80s and she thinks, why deprive now? She has never been on a diet as far as I can remember, except right after her open heart surgery when her cardiologist made her go on a diet. My father pretty much administered it and she was very angry and resentful about the stuff she couldn’t eat.  After a few years she just kind of ignored it and I think ate even more as a bounce-back.

Anyway. We will all eat with all kinds of people with their own food issues, all the time. And the thing that is important is to keep grounded in our own plan, our own commitment to what we are going to eat or not eat.  In the past, I’ve been with people who ate like birds, and it made me nervous and panicky, and want to eat even more. Or else I would get in some stupid, silent “I can eat just as little as you!” competition.  That then backfired as soon as I was out of their sight.

I’ve been lucky that nobody has really tried to push food on me since I’ve started this. A friend came over for dinner and brought a beautiful looking pound cake but I wasn’t tempted and she was also really sweet and apologetic, and the people who could eat the cake enjoyed it. (guess who? Mom!) I think it’s a lot easier to say you are on a diet for medical reasons than for vanity reasons because if you just say you want to be thinner, people say, Oh you look just fine!

I am almost relieved that I have this medical “excuse” to fall back on. But really, we all do. We all need to be healthier and more conscious.

How do the people around you affect your eating habits? And how do you deal with it? (if at all) Foodie wants to know!

 

Buffet: Learning From Mistakes January 31, 2009

I made a bunch of ‘em today, mistakes that is. I started out pretty well. I knew that I was going on a boat all day that included a lunch buffet. I took myself out to breakfast (I am on vacation, remember, so it’s hard to cook here) and got a really good spinach/olive/onion omelet. And only ate half. I didn’t want to let myself get too hungry because I had no idea or control what was going to be on the buffet, and I didn’t want to be in a situation where I’d be starving and just eat everything.

So the lunch buffet opened on the boat. (we were whale-watching) I had just done an hour of snorkeling which I would guess would be equivalent to about 20 minutes of stairmaster or elliptical. It was tough flippering through rough waters! I was pretty hungry.

The buffet had some yummy pulled pork, some grilled teriyaki chicken, rice, white rolls, macaroni salad, and a full bar of complimentary alcoholic drinks. I remembered that my book said that one of the key “sabotaging thoughts” or things that allow us to overeat is, “It’s free.” No, not really free, because we already paid an arm and a leg to COME on the boat.

It was easy to pass up the alcohol. I’d already made that decision, and the drinks looked not so great. That was easy. Ditto on the rice and rolls. I took a bunch of pork, and some chicken. Then (WHY WHY WHY?) I also scooped up a bit, maybe 1/4 cup max, of the macaroni salad. I am still trying to break down that moment. I have not had simple carbs since the day I started this blog.

I took my plate and ate the pork. It was delicious. Then the chicken. I thought for  a second, wouldn’t it be great if I just threw away the plate with the macaroni on it? YES, it would have been awesome! I would have felt so proud of myself! But I did not. When everything else on the plate was gone, I took a little bite of the macaroni. It was gooooood. Then I ate it all.

Then I went back and got 2nds on the pork and a little bit of chicken. Then I circled the boat and did it AGAIN. (I did not get any more macaraoni either time though) And then I felt mad and pissed off and disappointed and too full for the rest of the afternoon. I mulled it over and over.

It had something to do with this buffet mentality.

I think it also had something to do with the fact that my husband was not on the boat. If he had been, there is NO WAY I would have had thirds.  I mean just no way. I wouldn’t have even had seconds.  So I have to admit that part of what was going on was some sort of “getting away with it” thinking which just made me feel like CRAP.

Sometimes I make him out in my head to be the Food Police, and then I rebel against him. But it’s all imaginary nonsense.  I have to be my OWN Food police, or really Food Angel, doing right by myself. Because “getting away with it” did not feel like getting away with anything except feeling terrible.

Someone near and dear to me asked me, “Was it worth it?” and the answer is an unequivocal great, big NO. No, a thousand times no. And may I learn from that.

Guess what, we went to a buffet for dinner too!! Agh. But this was easier. I was ready. I was dying of thirst because I’d ingested a ton of salt water on the ocean. I had three HUGE glasses of ice water, a cup of tomato soup (good) and a salad. I tried some fish and some chicken, but I didn’t like them so I left them after one bite. Still, I was sloshing full by the time we left. I think it was all the water.

I am not going to another buffet if I can help it, for a year. Or more.

 

Food That Works January 20, 2009

Today was overall a good food day, after my bad start with the scary numbers (I haven’t re-tested). But I did have a bit of an internal tantrum when I went grocery shopping later in the morning. I almost cried when I saw a magazine cover with a luscious photo of macaroni and cheese (“the comfort food issue”). I found myself gazing longingly at the bread. I ended up buying a loaf of artisan olive bread to go with the soup I was going to make for company.

I made Brazilian black bean soup for friends who came for lunch. It disappeared INSTANTLY and we all agreed it was the best black bean soup EVER.  I topped it with nonfat sour cream and it was just so good. I did have a slice of the olive bread with some olive/walnut tapenade I got at the farmers market yesterday. I have no idea if this was a terrible thing to do, or not so bad.

For dinner, I made this sundried tomato/goat cheese/basil chicken from Kalyn’s Kitchen. I was a bit nervous about trying something new, and a little worried about Picky Eating daughter, but everyone in my family LOVED it. I also stir fried some asparagus with lemon/artichoke pesto. It was gooooood.

So everything tasted delicious today. My only “slip” was the olive bread. I felt grateful to find things that I could really enjoy eating.

 

 
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