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March 2009

Ignorance Isn’t Bliss

I feel so much better now that I’ve had my lunch! Phew! I got a portobello mushroom “burger” which was a mushroom with a whole wheat bun. It was super juicy and delicious, topped with grilled red pepper strips and just YUM. I was sooooo hungry. This is a good warning to myself to EAT, especially in the morning. Sometimes when I can’t decide what to eat, I will grab a string cheese and that is often better than nothing.

It was interesting sitting around in this ice cream parlor place, watching other people. There was one family next to us: the parents were both significantly overweight, and they had one overweight kid and two regular-weight kids. They ordered burgers, fried onion rings (one of my prior favorites),  and sodas. Afterward, they had these giant sundaes. I looked at them and thought, really, is that what I want? To not have to think about what I eat? Because I would have made similiar choices at certain points in my past.

There was another older couple sitting nearby. The woman (I noticed she had a medic-alert bracelet on and wondered if it was for diabetes) was quite slender. She ate a small salad (picked off the croutons and put on her husband’s plate). The man was pretty overweight. He ordered a cheeseburger, potato chips, a chocolate shake with whipped cream. I thought, she is clearly making a choice there. She’s conscious. But is it for her health? Because she thinks she can’t eat that stuff?

It was just… interesting. I do see my weight loss journey like being on a river. Sometimes I’ve been on the Ignorance side, where I’m defiantly NOT making choices because of health or weight loss reasons.  When I’m over there, I look at the Conscious side, and think it doesn’t look like fun at all. When I’m on the Conscious side, I am afraid of falling off and ending up on the Ignorant side. It would be nice if I could just paddle down the middle, never being totally out of control but not having to spend so much time and energy on food stuff every minute. I’m hoping that as the healthy choices become more automatic and natural, it won’t be so time consuming.

My portobello mushroom burger was very satisfying and yummy. I was happy I made that choice. But for a few minutes, I longed for that Ignorance… until I looked around and saw what that really looked like.

To Plan or Not to Plan

I know that many people plan out their meals days or hours ahead of time. I can certainly see the benefit of that, but I also feel like it contradicts the idea that one should enjoy one’s food and only eat what one wants in a certain moment.

I was caught in indecision this morning, and it really has set me up for a funky day. I didn’t  have a lot of time for breakfast. I was plannning on making an eggwhite omelet with veggies, but when I got up, I was SO not in the mood for eggs. I couldn’t think of what else, and I was in a hurry. I ended up with a cup of coffee and a handful of Antioxidant Trail Mix. (basically, nuts and dried fruit) It wasn’t enough. I was cranky. I was in a hurry. I wanted a grilled cheese sandwich in the worst way. Then I started having a mini internal tantrum about lack of food choices. The internal chorus was chanting about grilled cheese.

So I ended up with no breakfast. I had a cup of tea while at a work meeting. Now it’s lunchtime. My mother (who volunteers in my office one day a week) wants to go to the ice cream parlor place for lunch. She’s going to have a chili dog. What can I have that is acceptable yet satisfying? A veggie burger?

Yeah. I can live with a veggie burger.

I’m also frustrated bc I’m stuck at a weight plateau again but I know why. Last week I had FOUR social dinners (2 dinners out and 2 potlucks, AGH) and I had a particularly stressful weekend. I have to get back on track.

I’m starving. Veggie burger, here I come.

What Works/What Doesn’t?

(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.

Giveaway Reminder!

Reminder! Tomorrow is the random drawing for The Instinct Diet book giveaway. Comment (there, not here!) for a chance to win this book. It looks very sensible and well-written.

Good luck!

Farewell, Diovan

This week I started feeling all dizzy and lightheaded during my workouts, especially those in which my head was lower than my body. I told my husband about it and he took my blood pressure and it was LOW. LOW!!!!! I have had high blood pressure for what seems like forever, starting with pre-eclampsia during pregnancy in 1989 and then never really resolving. I’ve been on BP medication for a long time.

He suggested that I stop my medication for a few days and see what happens. I was nervous about doing this, but I went ahead and did it and:

  1. I stopped feeling dizzy during exercise, and
  2. my blood pressure stayed NORMAL!

Normal normal normal!! Wooooooooo!! I am as excited about this as I am about losing weight.

Went to Weight Watchers this morning and in spite of a biggish dinner last night (another exuberant potluck) I was down 1.4 lbs from last week. So yay!

Overdoing It?

Last night I went out to dinner with a co-worker (actually my boss) and two guest speakers who are in town for this conference today. We went to a really nice place that I’ve been to a few times with my husband. There were so many good looking things on the menu and I got kind of overwhelmed; so I ordered a grilled asparagus appetizer (ie 4 stalks of asparagus grilled with lemon and about half an ounce of Manchego cheese) and for my entree, a big salad (a huge amount of lettuce, very lightly dressed with about 1/4 apple, a tablespoon of blue cheese crumbles, and maybe 4 walnuts). Was it virtuous, eating “right” or just over the top?

Everyone else had “regular” salads or appetizers and entrees. I don’t want to be that conspicuous ‘dieting person’ when going out with a group. All of my food tasted really delicious but it wasn’t totally satisfying in the end. I had eaten VERY lightly all day in anticipation of the dinner out, so I had “banked” my points so I could eat semi-normally. But when I got there I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

I think there has to be a balance – between figuring out what I want, and not eating too much or the wrong things. I think I ultimately did not trust myself last night, so only ordered a vegetable and salad.

Today I am going to be at this conference all day with very few choices of what to eat. I better run down and make my own breakfast b/c when I get there it will be coffee and pastries, and if I’m hungry, adrenalized and stressed, that’s not what I want to eat.

Trying to figure out the restaurant thing. I’ll probably have another chance to “practice” tonight at the post-conference dinner. Hmm….

PS. And another thing. After my 2 hour workout and my paltry dinner last night, I’m still stuck at that darned 13 lb mark. Booo.

Great Workout + Another Happy Clothes Moment

I have a much biggest post I want to write today but not sure the schedule will allow. But I did just have a happy moment I have to share!

I had this really nice blouse last year, one of my favorites. It was dry-clean only but somehow it got tossed into the washer. AND the dryer. It shrunk down tiny tiny. There was no way I could squeeze into it. I wrote it off. I made a note to one day donate it somewhere or give to one of my small friends. 🙂

WELL. Today after I got out of shower, I was standing there perusing my closet. I put on some black pants. Then I glimpsed my long-lost pretty blouse. I wondered… could it be possible?

IT FIT! IT FIT! IT FIT! I am wearing it now. I am doing the happy Snoopy dance.

In other brief news, I had the best workout this morning.  Normally I do two circuits of this rather grueling workout, with my trainer. I usually have to rush off after that (it takes an hour total) and besides, I’m pooped. And usually I work out with just him. (which is great) But today the gym was very busy and these two guys, whom I have worked out with in the past (more than a year ago) ended up showing up at the same time. We all worked out together. I was so pumped!! It just boosted my energy 100x more to have two other people to work out with. So I told my trainer I had some extra time, and I wanted to do 3 circuits. His eyes popped out and he got all happy and psyched and so the three of us did three.  I was really happy. I had done more than I thought I could do. I was about to leave, and this one guy got this gleam in his eye. He goes, “Four?” And I just knew I had it in me. I could feel my engine revving. “Yeah!”  So we did the fourth circuit and I was so adrenalized and happy and proud and full of energy. It was a long, intense, two hour workout. I felt so happy when I left.

Then I came home, showered, and put on my shrunken shirt!! Hee!!

Much better day than yesterday.

Could Have Eaten Three Cheesecakes Today

…. 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.

Biggest Loser Top Chef: YAY

Y’all know that The Biggest Loser and Top Chef are two of my favorite reality shows EVER. So last night I was just squeeing with glee to see Rocco Dispirito, frequent Top Chef guest judge, on the Biggest Loser! It was set up totally Top-Chef style. It was like the merging of two perfect elements, except a lot funnier. I LOVED it. First, Rocco laid out the nutritional reality of many fast foods: pizza, burgers and burritos. It was super gross and mind-boggling to see him scoop up the amount of fat in a burger and fries meal. Shudder. Great visual.

Anyway, the challenge was for the BL contestants to make healthy and tasty versions of those three items.  I was enamored of the bison burger with feta cheese and portabello mushrooms. (and yay, it won) I just happened to read an article about bison in Eating Well magazine, which I just discovered yesterday. I am kind of intrigued and might go see if they have bison at our local Whole Foods.

Another part of the show featured one team going to do a shadowboxing class with Sugar Ray Leonard. Man, that guy was awesome. He talked about the mental and spiritual challenges being just as if not more important than the physical part. He reminded them to remember their POWER:

Persevere
Overcome
Win
Every
Round

and also talked about having “tunnel vision” – just focusing on one’s goal and not getting distracted by outside things. Everyone was very emotional and teary watching him and so was I.

There’s been a fair amount of controversy about coach Jillian yelling at Laura, who has been a bit of a slacker and whiner. I have mixed feelings about this. She HAS been a slacker and whiner. My own trainer has never yelled at me and I am not sure I would be appreciative if he did. But I’m much more of a Kristin than a Laura – if he tells me to do something, I do it. Today I even asked for MORE because I was feeling so pumped up.  I’m not sure if it was the rest day yesterday, or watching BL last night. I always seem to have good workouts on Wednesdays.

In not-so-good news, the scale gave me 2 extra lbs this morning. Does that mean I have to change my weight-loss graphic thingie back to 13? I think not. It will just have to wait for me until it catches back up to 15. I’m not totally surprised or freaked out because there are some hormonal things going on but still, one hates to see that number go UP.

In other news: I now officially weigh a decent amount less than my husband. At one point I actually weighed more than him, and I cannot even express how NOT OKAY this was. He is six or seven inches TALLER than me. And he’s a guy. So for me to weigh more than he does, was just soooooooooo unacceptable. I want to weigh a LOT less than he does, but for now, the little distance is a big improvement.

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