Monday, September 05, 2011

Tuesday Tipday: Losing Weight The Easier Way

Alright, I'm no more of an expert than your average always-thinking-about-losing-a-few-pounds person, but I have hit on a bit of a breakthrough. I think I may have gotten rid of my food guilt. Let me explain.

Last Thursday I ate like a pig. It may have been the period hormones, or maybe I was just feeling lazy and let my guard down, but either way I lost it. I spent the day filling my face with pizza, mixed nuts, trail mix, peanut butter, chips...I. Went. To. Town.

Now, I've been using a program on my smart phone, My Fitness Pal, to track what I eat since I got the phone in July. At the end of the day when I saw that I'd gone way over every dietary limit I'd set for myself, do you know what happened? Nothing. Not only was there not an ounce of guilt or beating myself up or internal bad-mouthing, but I actually remember looking at the numbers and thinking Wow, I don't feel bad about that at all.

And, before you go telling me I'm setting a bad example, you should know that I was back to normal the next day. It was fascinating. There was no crying or begging God to help me lose weight or binging-because-I-screwed-up-Thursday-so-I-might-as-well-say-fuck-it-and-give-up. I remained calm and did what I needed to do. Suddenly, I was free.

You can be free, too. Though I admit that I'm not sure how I beat the cycle* I think it mostly involves not putting all my focus on food, weight loss, exercise or diets.

I now weigh 234, which I know would just kill a lot of people. But, it's much better than 254, so I'm ok with it until I lose even more weight (Or even, really, if I don't). My ultimate goal is to get at or just under 200. I realize that still sounds like a lot, but I wear a very comfortable size 14/16 at that weight and feel quite light.

Here's what I think has helped me:

1) Track that food. I know it sounds boring, but you'd be amazed how much it helps to see exactly what you're eating and what kind of calories/fat/sodium/vitamins/etc. you're taking in. Instead of making me obsessed with the numbers, it's just made me more informed. And information feels good.

2) It's all exercise. We need to stop only thinking in terms of running five miles or spending hours at the gym. Clean your house, walk in place while you watch your favorite TV show, garden, do squats when you're brushing your teeth, park as far away from the store as possible so you have to walk more...It's all exercise. Every step is better than no steps.

Get a good pedometer and keep track. They say 10,000 steps should be the goal, but even when I do a good amount of walking the most I usually muster is a bit over 6,000. That's better than 0, so I'm cool with it.

3) Stop being afraid. You will have good days and bad, stop letting the threat of less than healthy days scare the holy bejesus outta you. Food is not the enemy, we need it to live. It's fear that keeps us trapped in these odd food patterns that make us do stuff we know we shouldn't on a regular basis.

I used to read a lot of Geneen Roth back in the day when I was trying to figure out how to stop binging. One of the things she says is to buy all the stuff you're not allowing yourself to have and let yourself enjoy those foods. Eventually, you won't feel like you need to have gobs of them any more. I think this is what's happened to me with fast food. We've had so much of it in the past two and a half months that I can't really stand the idea of burgers/fries/onion rings/fried chicken now.

4) Pay attention. I haven't had seconds in months. I used to have the hardest time stopping when I was full. There were times where I'd actually eat until I felt like I was going to throw up because I'd eaten so much I'd made myself sick. The whys behind that are many, to be sure, but the important thing is to eat slowly enough to realize when you've had enough and stop. It might not be easy, but it's a major factor in enjoying what you eat.

5) Smaller portions made easy. If you're not getting the hang of #4, try forcing yourself to eat less by using smaller plates. This will trick you into thinking you're eating a full plate, when it's really not.

6) Stop demonizing certain foods. Barring anything you're actually allergic to or not allowed to have for health reasons, you should be able to eat whatever you want, whenever you want as long as you pay attention to your body and stop eating when you get full. Chocolate frosting by the spoonful? Ok. Pie and ice cream? Yes. Pizza with everything? Why not. Stop when you get that tightness in your tummy and you'll be alright.

7) Dear God, think about something else! It's possible that because so much of my mental space in the past couple of years has been taken up with family deaths, money problems and joblessness that I was able to think about losing weight without letting it take over my every thought process and that that was what allowed me to actually lose weight.

I'm not suggesting you stress out to lose a few pounds, but I am suggesting that you get in the habit of doing things you enjoy and talking to people you have fun with about non-dietary stuff. Don't let this take over your life. Remember, you are more than a dress size! Especially if you're taking all the right steps.

*You know how it goes: you eat too much of the supposed wrong thing then punish yourself by skipping meals and next thing you know, you're binging on giant bagels because you haven't allowed yourself a single thing to eat all day. Then you punish and binge and punish and binge into infinity. Blah, right?

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