Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Setback or a Respite? Disappointed, but Far from Giving Up!

My 2-Day Diet Progress Week 20, March 23, 2014 
Beginning weight 11/3/13: 209 lbs.
Height 5'8" Age: 61
Goal weight: 165 lbs.
Total loss goal: 44 lbs.
Beginning waist size: 43 in.
Current waist size: 39 in.
Weight end of week 20:  183 lbs.
Gain/Loss this week:  +3 lbs.
Total Gain/Loss:  -26 lbs.

A bit of a setback this week, but in fact, I see it more like I’ve lost three pounds so far this month. Last week I reported a loss of three pounds, which followed a loss of three pounds the week before. Six pounds in two weeks turned out to be an anomaly. So maybe I truly ate less those weeks and made up for it a bit this week, maybe I had a metabolic hiccup, or was dehydrated last Sunday morning when I weighed in.

At any rate, this week’s momentary gain of three pounds is not troubling to me, and unlike other times I’ve dieted, this time my diet has truly changed…permanently. I will continue to eat less than I used to, smaller portions of everything except green vegetables, a higher proportion of vegetables and protein to carbohydrates, more fish than fatty meats, snacks of vegetables with salsa or hummus, or low-glycemic fruits (apples, pears rather than grapes, strawberries) with dairy: yogurt, cottage cheese, or a small amount of hard cheese, and of course avoid any high carb/high glycemic index foods such as sweets, pastries, potatoes, beer and wine. In short, a Mediterranean diet as recommended in the book I’ve used as a guide: Howell The 2-Day Diet: Diet Two Days a Week, Eat Normally for Five .

I have faced the fact that losing weight is difficult. There’s definitely a part of me that says, “Hey, why not just call 25 pounds enough? You look better, you feel better, why not just take a break from the discipline it takes to actually shed pounds, to force your body, in one way or another to make do with less nutrition than it needs to maintain your current weight?” And perhaps that’s some of the thinking that allowed me to regress a few pounds this week. One late night snack that amounted to a small meal, and one steak dinner in which I allowed myself probably about six ounces of meat instead of the recommended portion of 3 or 4 ounces, and, truth to tell, two, yes two glasses of red wine.

But it was worth it. I am not in a hurry to lose the forty-four pounds I’ve established as a healthy goal weight. I lived with those extra pounds for many, many years. I am down to a weight I have not seen since I’m not sure when, probably thirty years, half a lifetime ago. So today, I’m simply determined to make this a losing week or at least a week in which I maintain my current weight. I’ll cut back on that impulse to put something in my mouth every time I enter the kitchen (a couple walnuts, a couple grapes, a prune or an apricot…it all adds up), and I’ll keep in mind a new paradigm I’m trying to develop for mealtimes: eat as little as possible to reach a state of non-hunger.

In other words, before my new eating regimen began almost 5 months ago, I ate until full and then ate again as soon as I was no longer full, interpreting lack of fullness as hunger. After I learned to distinguish being not full from being empty I waited until I was empty and then had a snack because the feeling of emptiness was unfamiliar and somewhat uncomfortable. Now that I am beginning to be able to distinguish feeling empty from true hunger and getting more comfortable with emptiness, I sometimes wait until I’m actually hungry to eat rather than snacking to keep from feeling empty. The next step, eating only enough to keep from feeling hungry, which though leaving me not feeling empty as well, doesn’t come close to making me feel full, is the line I am now exploring.

I know that if you are reading this and are currently eating a fairly normal American diet these distinctions sound loony, but ask a skinny person, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they can make those distinctions. Meanwhile, I attribute the ability to even begin to having these understandings to first cutting back on carbohydrate intake far enough to break the carb addiction most Americans live with and consider normal. It is that addiction, in my experience, that makes people feel as if they are hungry when they really don’t need the sustenance, much like a nicotine addict craves a cigarette or a heroin addict craves a fix. Will power alone is rarely enough to break those addictions. Something to ease the cravings is usually needed as a transition. In the case of carbs, however, it’s much easier to find substitutes than to the falsely calming effects of nicotine or the euphoria of an opiate high. And it doesn’t require a complete end of consuming carbohydrates to break the addiction, just a drastic reduction through smaller portions, whole grains, and low or no calorie sugar substitutes if sweets are important.

So give it some thought, read about it and when you’re ready, give it a shot.

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