I snapped this photo on my way to the farmer’s market this morning. The tulip leaves popping up around the pansies are new leaves. They are a sign that, despite the fact that there are still some chilly and gloomy days ahead, spring is here! It seemed appropriate to me to take a picture of them, because I feel like I’ve turned over a new leaf too. By the way, this is a long post, and a bit different than my usual, but I hope you don’t mind too much. 🙂
I really appreciate all of the comments on my previous post. This is such a supportive community, and I’m so lucky to have found it. One of the reasons I started my blog was because I felt like I was stuck in a rut. After writing about my weekly weigh-ins for the past couple of months, I’ve come to realize just how deep that rut had become. Looking at my Friday posts, I can see myself go back and forth between the stubbornness that drives me to push on to the weight goal I’ve set for myself, and the viewpoint of nice friends and colleagues who seem surprised that I’m still trying to lose.
Having been overweight for as long as I can remember, I never thought it would be possible for me to wear something in a size 6. Guess what! I can. When I started on this quest which has led me to lose over half of my body weight, it seemed like an emergency. I was miserable. I felt that I had to follow a straight and narrow path to solve the problem in the most efficient way possible. I’m the type of person who can commit to a long term solution and stick with it. I’m also a person with some perfectionist tendencies that can cause me to make myself crazy with rule following.
Yesterday, I wrote that I was going to try having a “pointless” week. I wasn’t exactly sure what that would entail, so I didn’t get into specifics. Initially, I thought I’d just try to eat reasonably and see what happened. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I wanted…. needed to continue keeping a journal of my food. I usually log everything in my on-line Weight Watchers tracker. That option was out as I was trying not to think “in points,” and they would be right there staring me in the face. I started putting pen to paper, but then I remembered the food tracker available through my sparkpeople account. I’ve thought about using the sparkpeople tracker to track calories before, in part because I was curious about how my daily points allowance would translate. Although I’m still counting “something,” it really is a different way of thinking, and I’ve approached my food in a very different way over the past two days. It has been a breath of fresh air! Strangely enough, I feel like a weight has been lifted. I think that I was just feeling burned out and mired down after four years, and I needed a change– even if that change just means adding larger numbers together. I took a big step out of my rut!
I’d love to tell you that I was brave enough to just try eating without counting anything. That’s my ultimate goal, and I considered leaping into that yesterday. I think I used up all of my bravery just deciding to break away from the plan that has served me so well. Please don’t think I’m criticizing Weight Watchers, by the way. I want to be clear about that. I’m not criticizing it at all. I would still recommend it wholeheartedly to any person wanting to lose weight. I just think our relationship has grown stale.
To be honest, I like the practice of logging my food on-line each day. I enjoy the fancy spreadsheets and the checkboxes. I like looking back at all of the nice healthy things I’ve eaten. I really don’t have a problem with keeping track, and I may always want to do that. I’ve never counted calories, and, while I can rattle off points values like nobody’s business, I’m not well versed in the number of calories in many of the foods I eat. I don’t think that knowing the calories in my food choices is a bad thing as long as I use that knowledge wisely to make healthy choices that sustain my body and my spirit.I’ve realized that I kind of like the simplicity of the calorie. It is what it is. No formula needs to be applied, there is no room for “tricks” (and believe me, I have some) and every food really counts. That makes sense to me.
I also think that looking at a daily rather than weekly picture of my food choices may be better for me. Focusing on each week and each Friday morning weigh-in has really been frustrating and has made me a bit more obsessive than I think is healthy. A good friend who always hears my weekly woes likes to remind me that Fridays are only a snapshot, which is so true. My food choices on Monday had a big impact on whether I’d be willing to do something with friends (involving eating) on Wednesday. With a Friday morning weigh-in, I tried not to do anything on Thursday nights. I don’t think that’s a very sane way for me to live my life. It isn’t so great for my social life either. What’s the point of looking and feeling better if you are going to hide out on Thursday night worrying about the number you will see in the morning? It is, indeed, a time for change.
Basically, this week (month? year?) I’m sticking to my old habits of eating at least five servings of fruit and vegetables and drinking at least 100 ounces of water a day, concentrating on eating healthy and satisfying foods rather than empty ones, and trying to get at least two servings of dairy. Yes, that’s the weight watchers way of eating, but I’m convinced that it is just a healthy way to eat too. That’s part of the reason I’ve stuck with the plan for so long. In addition to that, I’m continuing in my quest to really pay attention to whether or not I’m actually hungry when I decide to have a bite to eat. I feel like these are all healthy goals, very normal and, um, basically what I’ve been doing all along. The only real difference is the framework I’m using to keep track of it all.
Oh, and I’ve noticed quite a difference in the frameworks already. That brings me to Vani’s forbidden foods challenge at Fit for Free. From Vani’s site: “This challenge is based on the idea that life is short, we should LOVE what we eat, and denial will only lead to overindulgence. It’s a challenge to leave behind the stress associated with a particular food and begin to trust yourself around it.”
There are some foods that are quite “expensive” as far as points go, and I’ve not allowed myself to have them. I’m not talking about a slab of cheesecake here. Nuts, for example, add up quickly. They’re also good for you. Therein lies a quandry. I eat them, but never a full serving at once. One nutty food that I’ve wanted to try forever, but haven’t, is the chocolate coconut chew Larabar. This nutty little bar would cost me almost 1/4 of the entire number of points I’m allowed to eat in a day. Meanwhile, it is only 220 calories. I say “only” because that is certainly not 1/4 of the calories target I’ve set for myself with the assistance of the sparkpeople tools. I always looked longingly at these bars, but knew that I couldn’t “afford” to have one without seriously adjusting my eating for the rest of the day. It was always safer just to leave it sitting on the shelf with its Larabar cousins. I love coconut and chocolate, so this bar has always sounded particularly tempting to me. It’s full of healthy ingredients, and I’ve always felt as though it was something that I should be able to have from time to time. Tonight, I had one– guilt free.
I enjoyed my nutty yummy Larabar for dessert following my healthy dinner. I savored it along with a cup of tea, and I was just so HAPPY! It didn’t morph into a five point elephant. It sat there proudly wearing its 220 calorie tag. I ate it slowly, enjoying the big pieces of nuts and the strands of coconut, and it was just lovely. I hope it still counts as a forbidden food. I don’t plan to keep it out of my snack bowl any longer!
Does the Larabar example mean that I’m going to be eating more calories this week? Maybe so. Does that scare me? Strangely enough, it doesn’t. In addition to deciding to keep track of calories instead of points and to focus on the day to day rather than the week to week, I’ve decided to let my body decide whether it wants to be in maintenance or weight loss mode. My goal is to eat the number of calories that is healthy for my body, keep up my current exercise routine because the benefits are much bigger than my scale, and focus on eating a healthy diet. If I lose weight, great! I will know that my body needed this change in approach, and, possibly, needed the extra calories. If I start to gain, I may start counting points again. That’s my safety, and I like having a plan B. If I manage to stay the same, well, that’s ok. I’m grateful to have had the success I’ve had, and I’m pretty sure that the benefits of losing another 10 or 20 pounds would not outweigh the stress, obsession and frustration it might take to get me there. I’m going to wear my size eights and sixes with a continuing sense of amazement and gratitude, and any additional pounds I shed will just be gravy. Mmmm…. gravy. 🙂
If you are still reading, thanks for hanging in there. If you skimmed to the bottom, I can’t say I blame you. Writing this post was a useful exercise for me, and I hope that something in it might be useful for someone else as well. Now that I have all of the heavy stuff out of the way, I’m going to finish up a lighter post about today’s visit to the farmer’s market, which I plan to post soon. I’m having a great weekend and feeling so very good about my choices. I hope you are having a great weekend too!