Category: dieting

Putting My Personal Superpower to Work

Everybody seems to be following different diet plans. There’s the all meat diet. The gluten free diet. The keto diet. Paleo diet. I can’t keep track of them all. I’ve always stuck with the calorie counting diet in the past. It’s been reliable for me, and I’ve always been able to lose weight before. (Why am I writing about diets, you might ask? Europe and my birthday and MLA Annual Conference have put me 10 pounds over my “line in the sand” where I’m supposed to start seriously dieting, that’s why.)

The one problem with the calorie counting diet is that you have to actually count stuff. This is not something I enjoy doing. I really don’t like sitting down to a good meal and having to weigh it all out and do calculus to figure out how much of that great meal I can eat.

However.

One strength of mine is basic immunity to repetition. It’s kind of like a superpower, I’ve decided. (Even if I haven’t figured out how to take over the world with it just yet.) I can wear the same thing every day, and I don’t care at all. I can eat the same thing for breakfast for months at a time, and I still enjoy it. I just don’t care that I had it yesterday. I’m immune to the feeling of “I need to do something different this time.” (This, sadly, does not extend into my work routine. I do like to mix things up when it comes to what I do each day. But for the little things like food and clothing? Who cares? I’m hungry. I eat. Now I’m not. Problem solved.)

This is not to say I don’t enjoy different foods. Obviously I do. And when Denisa’s here making delicious food, I eat it. Because why not?

Each day, I always eat the same breakfast (oatmeal), snack (banana at 11am), and lunch (peanut butter sandwich at noon). Typically I then mix things up for dinner. While Denisa was away over the summer, however, I discovered that I can eat the same thing for dinner as well. In fact, I can eat the same thing I ate for breakfast: cold, raw oatmeal with cold milk. To treat myself, I put in chocolate chips instead of raisins. (What can I say? I’m good to me.) Then for a snack at night, I have my peanut butter, cocoa, banana, and milk smoothie.

I lost  6 pounds in about 1.5 weeks with that approach.

Now that I found myself so high above my goal weight, I finally decided to bring down the diet hammer again. And this time, I was done with counting calories. I told Denisa that I’m not going to be eating anything with the rest of the family until I’m back under my goal weight. It’s just going to be oatmeal, sandwiches, and smoothies every day. I’ve already lost 4 pounds. (6 to go, though I might try to ride it all the way down to 175 this time.)

This is just the natural extension of something I’ve always told people: find out what you’re good at, and do that. Find out what works for you. Will the oatmeal diet work for any of you? Doubtful. I’d imagine most people would get sick of it. But for me? I can do it without breaking a sweat. When I’m hungry, I just realize that I’ll be eating something at my prescribed time later on, and that’s enough to keep me going.

What’s your superpower?

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On Passing Arbitrary Benchmarks

In theory, I know that passing a certain line in the sand doesn’t necessarily carry any special meaning. The line could have been anywhere else just as easily. When you have a birthday, you’re just a day older than you were the day before, but passing that mark still seems to mean something. It comes with a sense of accomplishment (or dread, I suppose.)

I’ve been losing weight for a while now. It’s had ups and downs. The heaviest I’ve been was 240, around 15 years ago. (Give or take a few years.) And each time I lose a bit of weight, it’s just another tiny chunk in the grand scheme of things, no more or less important than any other.

All of that said, when I got on the scale this morning and saw the number (179.6), I couldn’t help but do a happy dance inside, because seeing that second digit turn into a 7 for the first time (in . . . 25 years? Something like that) really felt like an accomplishment. Like a sign that what I was doing was working.

Dieting isn’t fun, but the last time I was overweight for any real length of time was April 2016. We’re coming up on two years of being at a “normal” body weight. And this latest round has gotten me almost to where I think I really want to end up. (175)

I know that I’m feeling much better because of the better way I’m treating my body. Regular sleep, better food, regular exercise, cutting down on sugar, and having a daily multivitamin make a huge difference. I know that, because just last month I didn’t exercise as much, and I ate way too much, and I gorged myself on sugar. I didn’t feel good. So I’m glad to have made these changes, and I’m really thankful to the people who help me stick with it.

Anyway. That’s all I’ve got for you today. Just wanted to share.

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The First Month of the Weight Loss Group

I blogged a month ago about a new approach I was taking to weight maintenance. Four friends and I made a pact: lose 5 pounds every month (or have reached our weight goal and maintained that weight) or else we have to pay $50, split between all the people who managed to meet their goal.

It was interesting watching how it played out over the course of the month. I thought I wouldn’t have any problem losing the weight. I was a pro at this, right? Except the first two weeks involved a couple of conferences and a vacation trip, and halfway to the finish line, I hadn’t just not lost weight. I’d gained 2.2 pounds. So now I had two weeks to lose 7.2 pounds, which sounded a whole lot worse than 4 weeks to lose 5.

Friends, I have never been more motivated to lose weight in my entire life. My natural inclinations to win any game I play and to be a tightwad came together perfectly. I watched each calorie like a hawk. Hunger was just a reminder that I had to win. I lost the weight and saved the money.

For the most part, it seems like this was reflected in the other participants. Well, except for one, who somehow managed to lose 12 pounds and never looked back once. For the rest of us mortals, things seemed iffy toward the middle, but in the end 4 out of the 5 participants managed to lose the 5 pounds. So the one who didn’t pays us each $12.50.

I count this as a success, and I’m excited for the next month. If I reach the goal of 5 pounds lost this time, then it will officially be the lowest I have weighed since high school. I don’t have that much left to lose 10 pounds or so, total. So if this gets me there, that’s great. More importantly, I hope it keeps me there.

Some people have said we’re basically betting, but I want to stress that I don’t view this as a bet. It’s a weight loss program with a $50/month fee that you don’t have to pay if you manage to meet your goal. Weight Watchers costs $20-$55 each month, depending on how much coaching you get. Would a program like that be willing to refund your money if you’re successful? I think not.

Though really, this only works if all of us in the group are doing it. If we start bailing, then suddenly the outside motivation can evaporate. So I’m glad to see that it’s worked well so far. And the one who didn’t make weight is now highly motivated to correct that this month. (I think.)

Of course, this month also has Thanksgiving. We’ve moved the weigh-in date to Thanksgiving morning. My goal is to lose extra weight before I head down to Pennsylvania, because I know I’ll want to eat extra while I’m down there. We’ll see how it goes.

In any case, so far, so good. I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

Crossing the Weight Line

Sigh. I got on the scale this morning and read the result: 196.8. That’s the first time in over a year I’ve been overweight again. It’s 13.8 pounds heavier than my lowest weight, and if I don’t get back under 195 by Sunday morning, then I’ll break my perfect string of being normal weight at the beginning of each month, as well.

I’m not too worried about getting under 195 by Sunday. I just got back from a conference, and then I had pizza last night. I already know from experience that equates to a bump in weight, but any which way you slice it, I have most definitely been cheating on my diet regime more and more since July.

The thing is, when I’m cheating on my diet, I almost always have a “good reason.” Lots of stuff is happening in my life. I’m stressed. I don’t have time to worry about little things like my health, right? Of course, that’s typically when I ought to be paying the most attention to what I’m eating.

The biggest problem is that even after a year of eating healthy, I still fall back on bad eating habits in times of stress. It’s my way of coping with having too much to do, and I have years of experience using it that way. I know that unless I do something about it, I will slip back up to 215 or so, and then I’ll be right back in the same mess I started in. I knew there would come a time when I would go over 195 again. Now’s the time to get serious about things once more.

And I’ve come up with a new plan.

In conjunction with a group of friends, I’ve started a weight loss group on Facebook. It’s small (just 5 of us), and the rules are simple. We each have a goal weight we’d like to get to. One we set on our own. And each month, we’ve promised each other to lose 5 pounds. We’ll keep that up until we reach the goal weight, at which point we’ll shift to maintaining that goal weight. Seems pretty straightforward, right?

But there’s the incentive.

Each of us has agreed to chip in $50 each month we fail to lose the 5 pounds or maintain our goal weight. The ones of us who have managed to lose the weight or keep it off get to split that $50. So in other words, as long as I always keep the weight off or keep losing weight, I don’t have to pay a single cent. And if I stay on track, I might even get some money (though I really hope none of us has to pay out ever.)

My starting weight was 192.6. So at this point, I need to lose 9.2 pounds to avoid paying the penalty. I have until the morning of October 25th. I certainly would have made things easier on myself if I’d watched what I ate while I was away, but water. bridge.

Ultimately, I’d like to get to 175, and then stay around there, with 180 being my new “line in the sand” weight. The good news is that I really don’t feel like I’m dieting anymore. I do believe I have a new approach to eating, and I just have to stick to it instead of cheating on it.

Wish me luck. (I don’t want to have to pay $50!)

Changing Your Self Image

I think the biggest help for me in my never-ending quest to be a healthier person has been a simple mental shift. Choosing to be a different type of person. A healthier person. It’s the difference between being on a diet and not. When I have dieted in the past, the simple act of calling it “a diet” implies that it’s temporary. That it’s something I’m doing right now that I don’t want to do forever, and that once I’ve reached a goal (a certain weight), then I’ll be able to stop doing it.

So a diet is temporary. Is it any wonder, then, that once that diet’s over I always went back to the lifestyle that led me to the need to diet in the first place? I thought of myself as a person who likes to eat and enjoy all manners of sugary sweetness. When I’d go to a restaurant, I’d order the big meals, because I was a Hungry Person. I’d get the largest drink. The biggest fry. And when I ate at home, I’d take big portions.

The last time I was “overweight” was April 7, 2016. (It’s easy to tell, since I log my weight every day, and that’s the last time I was over 196.) That means I haven’t just dieted and gotten to a goal weight. I’ve maintained that weight for well over a year. Through holiday celebrations, conferences, stressful times, and more. I was 187.4 this morning. I went up some while I was stress eating in Utah, and I imagine I’ll go up some again when I go on vacation next week. But I believe what’s keeping me around where I want to be is the fact that I’ve changed what my baseline is.

Sure, I go and break my healthy rules while I’m away from home, but when I come back, I’m right back into it. Oatmeal in the morning. A banana at 11. Peanut butter sandwich at noon. I try to remind myself when I’m out and about that I don’t need the biggest meal anymore. It’s hard, though. I’ve got decades of habit I’m trying to overcome, and it’s not like I go out to eat that often, so I don’t have much experience with the healthy ordering thing. But I’m trying.

Still, if I were to suggest to someone how to successfully keep off weight, this would be my main takeaway. I don’t feel like I’ve changed the core person of who I am, but the old person who didn’t exercise and liked to overeat every day?

That person doesn’t exist anymore.

I guess it’s kind of like a reverse Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker thing. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

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