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What Works/What Doesn’t? March 9, 2009

(for me)

Hilary over at Turtle Progress took my blog post topic right out from under me this morning (and did a great job of it, too). She wrote about structure vs. nonstructure, moderation vs abstinence. Go read it – it’s a great post.

I feel like I’ve been pondering these things very deeply ever since I began this journey on January 17th. I have tried to lose weight and have a “different relationship to food” for a long time now, and ultimately always failed. So I was very wary about trying anything new, or trying anything old for that matter, for fear of “failing.” Also, I was waiting to get guidance from my new doctor, my endocrinologist, in hope that she would give me a food plan for my prediabetes.

So what did she tell me to do? “Whatever works for you.” And we talked about how figuring out that “whatever works” is no simple task, but it is SO IMPORTANT. Because if you try to do something that doesn’t work, well then, it’s an exercise in futility. So I hesitated about accepting a friend’s invitation to join O.A.  I hesitated about going back to Weight Watchers. I read a bunch of books. I read blogs and articles and Twitter links constantly, searching for things that will resonate, that will go “ping!” I feel like every moment there’s a new choice to be made.

Here’s some stuff I’ve learned about my self and WWWD (what works, what doesn’t) in the past several weeks:

Sweet stuff:

  • Trader Joe’s Sugar Free Chocolate Covered Almonds: these used to work for me last year when I was doing South Beach. They don’t seem to anymore; ie I realllllllllly can’t eat just a few. Eat one, and I want to scoop up a whole palmful.
  • Hard candies: these work. These really, really work. The great thing is that they last a really long time – which seems to be key. They last as long as my craving for something sweet does.  Sugar free Werther’s hard caramels, and SF Life Savers are my friends.

Magazines: Let me say right off that I am a magazine junkie. I just find magazines soothing, relaxing, I like looking at the pictures and it’s just one of my favorite guilty pleasures. SO I’ve been checking out some new ones lately.

  • Diabetic Living magazine. Doesn’t work for me. I thought it would be good to check out what’s being said to this community, since I am on the periphery of it. It’s all about (seems to me) trying to calm people down about not being able to have their Ho-Ho’s and Ring Dings anymore, and giving them alternative Ho-Hos and Ring Dings. The tone is slightly patronizing and assumes that diabetics are REALLY into junk food.
  • Eating Well magazine. WOW this one works. Their subtitle is “Where Good Taste Meets Good Health” and it’s not expressly about losing weight, so it’s not a diet magazine per se, but it’s all about being healthy which means stuff that’s overall lower in calorie. They had a really interesting and intriguing article on bison meat vs beef and another one about the many ways to love asparagus. So they’re not jamming stuff down your throat, but just, this makes sense.

Weight Loss/Eating Approaches:

  • Overeaters Anonymous: to be completely fair, I have not been to a meeting in ten years+, and I have never been to one of the more hard-core “gray sheet” meetings. But I really feel it is not for me. Because I am the kind of person who needs to be constantly experimenting, testing, trying out to see if something works, and if it doesn’t I can’t do it. So a program that has a prescribed list of foods for EVERYone is not something that feels workable for me. I don’t believe that there can be a one-size-fits-all approach to weight loss, unless a person says, “Just give me a list so I don’t have to think about it.” Also, I object strongly to the secrecy around it and the fact that they won’t publish the damn list unless you go to a meeting and hold hands with people. My life has been damaged by people keeping secrets and I am very balky about these things. I recognize that OA might be THE perfect, life-saving, joyous path for many people, and I am very happy for them, but I really feel on a visceral level that it is not right for me. I don’t believe nor want to ever believe that I have an illness, other than prediabetes. I also don’t believe that there is no hope for me to ever be “normal.” I am holding that hope out for myself.
  • Weight Watchers: the jury’s still out on this one, since I have been through this program many time and ultimately abandoned it – often very quickly. I’m going to hang in there this time. I’m approaching it with a curiousity, what is it like to weigh food on a scale? If I do stay within the points they give me, can I be happy and satisfied and make it work? Sometimes the little classes are too dumb for words, but sometimes they are good and funny and inspiring. So what the heck. I do find it motivating to know that that scale will be there every week.
  • I noticed someone on Twitter called EatWithoutGuilt, which piqued my interest. I’d love to get rid of some guilt. After some perusing of her blog, I understand that her approach is something along the lines of the “Why French Women Are Skinny” thing; ie they eat all sorts of decadent and rich foods but they don’t gain weight. Why? Because they eat small amounts and don’t overeat and only eat what they truly enjoy.  I dialogued back and forth with Dineen and she was amazingly generous with her time and attention. I told her it truly does seem to good to be true, and that I could not imagine myself eating brie and chocolate and croissants without dire consequence.  I think it would take a major amount of re-training to be able to eat these things in the limited amounts necessary to lose weight. Psychologically, I am not sure I am capable of this right now, but it’s something that I would like to aspire to. One day. To be able to trust myself enough to enjoy ANY kind of food out there, to a healthy degree. Again, this might be too good to be true, but I’m not dismissing it as “never.”  Maybe one day.
  • Mindful Eating: This, I have to say, is the most appealing thing I’ve read.  It’s somewhat related to the EatWithoutGuilt approach in that it doesn’t advocate prohibiting particular foods. However it does advocate taking the time and mindset to make good choices, which often are the healthiest choices. It appeals to the wannabe Buddhist in me, the contemplative approach, the conscious and mindful approach. I read a very inspiring article in a local magazine about a woman who took a workshop with this approach and had a real turnaround. It sounded very much like a “good fit” for me and I am looking forward to exploring more.
  • The Beck Diet Solution: I’ve already gone on and on about how helpful I think this approach is, so I won’t be redundant here. It’s a more psychological approach, a cognitive-therapy way of going about things, and personally I am finding it enormously helpful. It doesn’t include a diet plan but a way of following the food plan that you choose. It’s a system of offering “helpful thoughts” to counter the myriad of “sabotaging thoughts” that assault us on a daily basis. I truly think that if I could remember the helpful thoughts throughout the day, I’d be in much better shape. I’ve been using these regularly since January and I truly think they have helped.
  • The South Beach Diet: I almost forgot this one. I would never recommend a particular food plan for anyone else, but being a glucose “impaired” person (my official status), all of my doctors have recommended that I follow a low-GI (glycemic index) sort of plan. I think especially doing Phase 2-3 of SBD is quite liveable, and basically what I am doing right now. I’ve found some excellent and delicious recipes at Kalyn’s Kitchen. It’s chock-full of great recipes for every phase of SBD. Thanks Kalyn!

I’m very curious and eager to hear what particular “approaches” or foods or magazines or books or whatever have worked for y’all. I do believe that these things are so individual, and that what works for some of us won’t for others, and vice versa. But I’m very interested in learning about the many tools out there for those of us who want change.

Next blog post brewing: what’s underneath it all.

 

Food Food Everywhere…. and What to Eat? February 20, 2009

Just finished watching THE most awesome episode of Top Chef… in New Orleans! I looooove New Orleans and love eating in New Orleans. Is it sicko that I love The Biggest Loser and ALSO Top Chef?  My husband is from New Orleans and has lots of family there, so we have had our share of visits over the years.  I’ve never been “on a diet” on any visit there and so my head was spinning watching the beignets (fried dough! yum!), the seafood, the grits, the gumbo, all of it.

I guess it’s good to watch it and have some sort of vicarious thrill, without ingesting a single calorie… in that way I guess TC is a good thing. But it also really revs up those cravey vibes. Hmm. (I’m not giving up my Top Chef! Not yet!!!)

But speaking of food, I am trying to figure out what diet to actually be on. Maybe the endocrinologist will tell me next week. But I still think I need to settle on something. I’ve been doing a rather loosey-goosey version of South Beach that I think has taken me about as far as it can.

I actually went back to the Weight Watchers site this week and downloaded the local meeting schedule into my calendar/phone. I have very mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I’ve had great success with WW in the past. On the other hand, I’ve also had abysmal failures, mostly due to having a bad attitude. I think I’ve got my Attitude in hand now, so maybe I ought to give it another try. (sigh) I don’t know.

A friend of mine has been telling me of her success with Overeaters Anonymous (OA) and particularly the very hard-core “Grey Sheet” which limits one’s food choices to a certain list. All I know is that it does not include white (?) flour and sugar. I’m fine with that. But also avocados! Can I live with that? I don’t know. I also am extremely ambivalent about the weighing/measuring/planning/sponsor thing. If I compare my level of food addiction to an alcohol addiction, I’d say that I wouldn’t be the kind of drunk who blacks out and is violent and can seriously harm self or others. I’m the kind who occasionally gets drunk at parties and sometimes questions or regrets having had a drink or two too many.  So I do not know if I need THAT LEVEL of intervention.

When I read the Beck Diet Solution book, it really spoke to me. It made sense to me. It resonated and I felt seen, understood, busted, and supported all at once. Which was great. But it basically leaves the readers on their own to find a diet that works for them. I feel like I’m still working on that.

Tonight I bought an e-book by this guy, whom I’ve been following on Twitter for a while. I know it’s got that hokey, infomercial, over exclamation-pointed feel, but I’ve read a bunch of his blog posts and they seem to make a lot of sense.  It’s pretty much a low-carbish, spread-your-meals-out sort of thing, which I think makes sense for someone who tends toward the diabetic side.  I’m going to read his book over the next few days and probably make that my diet.

I want to be really conscious about this decision and make sure it’s something I can live with. I’m not sure I can live with anything that would not allow me at least one delicious meal in New Orleans… okay, I’ll forget the beignets, but not the oyster stew.

 

 
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