Saturday, October 9, 2010

Learning healthy portions

I my post "epic portions" I gave an example of how I used to eat. I had planned to give you an example of how I eat now, then I realized I first need to tell you how I got from there to here. It's kind of hard to explain, but I'll do my best.

I gained most of my excess weight after getting married, ten years ago. I never liked being overweight. I would try something every once in a while, like SlimFast, then I would give up and go back to my regular life. A little over two years ago I decided enough was enough. I was at my heaviest weight ever, a weight that I had never expected to be. I realized that change wasn't going to just happen, I had to make it happen. The diet pill Alli was all the rage at the time. I decided I would try it. I did all the research, read all the books and info on it. I liked the idea of going low fat. I knew I would never be able to give up carbs. I also decided it was time to alter the Dr. Pepper habit. I had tried giving up soft drinks cold turkey before. Never worked for me. So, Diet Dr. Pepper was my saving grace. I made low-fat selections at restaurants, used Smart Balance instead of butter, snacked on Twizzlers instead of brownies, and took my pill at every meal. From June 2008 to about October 2008 I lost 23 pounds. I realize now the majority of that was probably not from the Alli, but from the switch from regular to Diet Dr. Pepper. I look back and realize my calorie intake from food probably didn't change that much, I just swapped fat for carbs. I could eat about a pound, literally, of Twizzlers a day. But, I was no longer in the habit of eating an entire bag of Dove Chocolates in one sitting. So I did make some positive changes in that time, changes that I know helped me get closer to where I am now.

October to December is my absolute favorite time of year. I love to bake, and make candy. I always get in the mood to bake when the weather starts getting colder. So my weight loss stopped in October of 2008. But, here's the thing: I wasn't giving up. Let me explain. To me, giving up would have meant that I decided I can't do this, I'm never going to get this weight off, I'm not going to try anymore. I never thought that. I knew that I could and would get the weight off, it was just a matter of finding the right motivation again. I wasn't trying as hard, but I was still trying. When I made pumpkin scones I would have two or three instead of five or six. I never did go back to regular Dr. Pepper. I would rejoice on the rare occasions when I made home from a trip to Target without a treat. I was still very frustrated. I still wanted to kick myself when I would step on the scale. But, I knew that I was still making better choices than I had been. The proof of that was on the scale. I couldn't get it together enough to lose any more, but I didn't gain any back either.

From October 2008 to April 2010 I tried almost everything. I tried South Beach. I tried Slim Fast (again). I tried Alli (again). I tried calorie counting. I tried running. I wanted to stay away from diets that I knew were unhealthy. Besides the few unhealthy means I tried didn't work. :) It's worth pointing out that I learned something from every single thing I tried. I gradually learned a few healthier habits, running taught me that I like to exerciese, I learned how many calories my body needs, etc. I knew how to lose weight. I just couldn't make myself do it. I tried being accountable to my grandma, my husband, my mother and my cousin. They were all too nice and understanding. I am a very rules-oriented person. But, it doesn't work if I'm the one making up the rules. I needed some kind of "authority figure" to be accountable to. In April I finally joined Weight Watchers.

Even while sustaining my 23 pound weight loss, my lifestyle really hadn't changed much. I was just barely treading water- keeping the weight off. So when I started WW I was ready to change my lifestyle. The thing that struck me the most, and still helps me now, is the idea that you can make anything a habit if you keep doing it long enough. My eating habits changed overnight. The first day on WW I stuck to my points limit like glue. The first week was great. I was in the honeymoon phase. I still ate the kinds of foods I was used to, I just ate less of them. Which, by the way, is a great way to start out. Then, the honeymoon phase wore off and life started creeping back in. But, I remembered my epiphany about habit-building. I knew that if I told myself "no" enough times, eventually I wouldn't even have to ask the question. I had bad days. I had good days. I stuck with it. I went to the meetings, I weighed in every week. I had found my "authority figure". The funny thing is, the only people who ever know my weight each week are myself and the receptionist. And the only person who really cares is me. (Not that the receptionist doesn't care, she just doesn't have as much of a stake in the information) So, I guess I'm the "authority figure". I love the motivation I get from meetings. I love the proud, cheesy feeling I get when we all clap for each others' accomplishments.

The key to learning portion control is learning how to measure portions. There's a lot about this all over the internet, so I'm not going to go into detail here. I measure almost everything now. It's kind of a pain, especially at first, but it works. And, you do get used to it.

I started out WW eating less of the foods I was used to. I have gradually learned to add in fruits and veggies. I am drinking about half the Diet Dr. Pepper that I used to. I have learned that cold water usually is just as satisfying. It's all about perception. We talk ourselves into wanting things. Once we realize that, then we can gradually learn to talk ourselves out of wanting things. I am still learning to tell myself "no" to that little something sweet after every meal. If I don't want to tell myself "no", I sometimes can be satisfied with one square of dark chocolate. I love Lindt 50 % dark. I'm still having trouble with weekends. There are a lot of habits I'm still looking to change.

I know this is already a long post, but here is a sample of what my diet looks like now:
Breakfast: 1/2 cup Quaker oatmeal cereal squares, dry. Bottle of water.
Lunch: Ham and Cheese sandwich- with light bread, low-fat cheese, and lettuce. Baby carrots. Bottle of water. 1 square Lindt dark chocolate
Snack: 1 cup canned peaches, or 1 cup light yogurt
Dinner: Beef and Broccoli stir fry on brown rice. Diet Dr. Pepper.
Snack: 1 Weight Watchers peanut butter cup sundae

This is on a good day. At the end of a day like this I feel very pleased with myself, I don't feel deprived, I'm not starving and I know the news on the scale next time will be good.

Changes in a nutshell:
I write down everything I eat, even if I shouldn't have eaten it.
I measure out portions.
I tell myself "no".
I don't keep trigger foods in the house at all. ie: cookies, cakes, ice cream, pretty much all sweets except for dark chocolate.
If I do slip up and bring something home from the store that I shouldn't have, I let my kids eat most of it, or I throw it away.
I try to add in more fruits and vegetables.
I try new things.
I plan for events like parties where I know there will be food I won't be able to resist.
I am teaching myself to resist more often.

1 comment:

  1. I think you are amazing! I am so proud of you and am anxious to become more like you! I love all that you have shared and how honest you have been. It helps me to recognize things that I should and CAN change! Way to go Fleur!
    I remember my high school english teacher who would always say "self control is the key to maturation." I laughed about it then, but it is so true. so true. Love you Fleur!