Sunday, November 10, 2013

Paul Epstein's Diet Challenge: Week 1

Beginning weight 11/3/13: 209
Height 5'8" Age: 61
Goal weight: 165
Total loss goal: 44 lbs.
Beginning waist size: 43 in.
Current waist size: 42 in.
Weight end of week 1:  202
Gain/Loss this week: -7 lbs.
Total Gain/Loss: -7 lbs.

I started this odyssey Sunday morning, November 3rd. It wasn't the ideal time to start a new (pick your euphemism) diet, weight loss regimen, healthy eating plan, lifestyle adjustment. A relative had died, there was family in town, there would be restaurant dinners Sunday and Monday and a lot of finger foods. But such is life. I had not finished reading the book (I'm choosing not to reveal the book/diet name until I decide if it's working for me), so I had only a hazy idea of what the diet entailed. At the restaurants, I didn't worry about how the food was prepared, but knowing it was going to be higher fat than what I fix at home. I just did my best to eat in moderation and avoid the obvious culprits. By Tuesday morning, the scale said I had lost 1/2 pound. But Tuesday and Wednesday I got serious.

Tuesday was a little tough. The diet plan I am following calls for certain restrictions at times (oh, you thought I'd found a diet that allows me to eat whatever I want whenever I want?), and I had cravings. But celery and salsa, a few walnuts, an apple, or a little yogurt got me through the hard moments. By Thursday morning I'd seen dramatic progress: 5 pounds lost. But I also woke early and really hungry. I ended up having two breakfasts, both smaller than I might have had in the past, and all of it "allowable" food. Really, they were probably smaller than snacks I was eating last week on a regular basis. You know, the food that doesn't count. It was getting easier. I was taking care on portion sizes, which in the language of the book seem incredibly small, until I realized a "serving" was really just sort of a measurement tool--you were allowed enough servings during the day of most food groups that you could easily have 2 or 3 "servings" of, say, chicken at a meal without having to forgo protein the rest of the day.

On Friday I had a realization about hunger. I haven't always been obese. In fact, though I've known for several years that the charts say I am, I still have trouble acknowledging that I fit that word. I see myself as overweight, chunky. I have a stocky build, lots of muscle, which I've read, is heavier. When I look at the BMI charts, I think, "That might not apply to me." Okay, maybe it's healthy to have good self-esteem. Anyway, though I haven't always been obese, I've been overweight  much of my life, and obese by definition the last twenty years or so. My realization about hunger is that we obese folks define any mildly unfilled feeling in our belly as hunger. As soon as we feel "hungry" we begin to think about what we're going to eat next to fill it again. If a meal is too distant (like more than fifteen or twenty minutes), we want a bite of something…now. Then a bite turns into a snack, and maybe we turn on the tv and mindlessly put whatever it is we got out to snack on in our mouths.

So I continued to do that the first few days of the diet, only the snack was measured and healthy, and twenty minutes later, and sometimes even while snacking, the feeling which I'd interpreted as "hunger" was still present. I realized it wasn't hunger. Sort of a dull ache, only the word ache means pain, and as I thought about it, and felt it, I realized it wasn't pain, it wasn't an ache, it was….emptiness. The feeling of an empty stomach is something I hadn't allowed myself to feel in years, because if I did get in a situation where I had no access to food, my mind would start creating fantasies about what and when I'd next eat and start yearning for food; it manufactured the idea of hunger. How many times have I had that feeling, and said to myself, "I'm hungry." Literally! A voice in my head saying, I'm hungry. Well, I'm turning it off. I'm going to learn to live with an empty stomach. Maybe at first only for a half-hour or forty-five minutes, but maybe, like building up a muscle, I can learn to expand it. We'll see. If I can't, so be it. I'll just have to stick to the smaller, healthier snacks. That's really not so bad.

And so, my friends, it's Sunday morning and I feel successful. But I also feel determined not to allow one week of dramatic weight loss to lull me into complacency. I've been here many times before. The first pounds are easy (and in the long run, keeping it off is really all that matters). So, it's off to fix a (small) bowl of oatmeal with maybe a half apple and sweetened with 0 calorie magic powder (the natural kind). I will report again next week!

No comments:

Post a Comment