Hey, Weight Up!

December 2, 2007

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It’s my obstreperous streak, probably.  Today, barely the second day of Holidailies–during which I’ve pledged to write in this blog with unwavering regularity–and already I’ve decided I don’t want to adhere to my self-imposed schedule of writing topics. 

Well, that’s not entirely true.  It’s not the topic, so much, that I don’t like, as the results of focusing on the topic.  For today is the Day I Must Record My Weight for all of the Blogosphere to See.  All right, perhaps I’m being a bit histrionic. Let me correct that:  For today is the Day I Must Record My Weight for all of the Four People Who Read My Blog to See. 

Despite snow drifts as high as my knees, I ventured to the workout club, as usual, this morning.  Had a fairly good go at the machines and free weights among the early-AM regulars (Good morning, Septuagenarian Italian Couple with the Matching T-Shirts!  How ya doin’, Elderly Gentleman Who Always Wears Black Knee Socks!  Top o’ the Mornin’ to ya, Burly Guy Who Stares at Women’s Breasts Between Sets!).  Still, I knew that last night’s dinner with my friend Deb (plus those two glasses of our latest favorite–and highly economical!–red wine) would waylay my otherwise descending weight. 

It’s a burden to always be right, I tell you.  Got on the scale with great trepidation to find my worst fears realized, with a weight gain of .5 pounds . So, rather than allow that disappointment to alter my mood and blow a black cloud over my otherwise cheery countenance, I started to reassess this idea of regular weigh-ins.  Yes, after only five weeks of them.

A couple of months ago, in her regular column in a prominent women’s magazine, Geneen Roth talked about this issue.  Why weigh yourself at all, she asked, even if you are trying to lose weight?  It’s a lose-lose situation (except for the number on the scale, that is). 

If the number goes up, you may have previously been feeling pretty self-satisfied, you may have been wearing your new Lululemon sweats like a banner-covered swimsuit at the Miss Universe Pageant, you may have been holding your head high feeling slim and taut and flat in all the right places–only to have that delusional euphoria instantly deflated, your mood for the day permanently altered by the fact that you’d gained 3/4 pound.  Even if you’d had no idea before stepping on that scale.

If the number goes down, it will probably only reinforce what you already knew, anyway:  you’ve been feeling better, lighter, lithe-r; your clothes are starting to loosen; and you’ve been walking just a little bit taller down those supermarket aisles.  Do you really need a scale to tell you all this?

The upshot is this: if you gain weight, do you really want to know?  And if you lose weight, don’t you already know? If the true goal is to focus on healthy eating and ultimate optimum body weight above all, can’t that be accomplished without the aid of a small, square, possibly incorrectly-calibrated mechanical object?

About three years ago, my older sister (let’s call her The Nurse) had a wicked crush on a coworker who didn’t happen to be her husband. And though nothing but a benign friendship ever came of it, she was consumed by guilt on a daily basis.  I mean that literally: she basically stopped eating food most of the day, and her guilt apparently ate up up excess body weight, somewhere in the vicinity of 60 pounds over 5 months. 

Did she use a scale to track this progress?  No, of course not; she wasn’t even aware of trying to lose weight initially.  Did she notice that the pounds had melted away?  Of course she did; her clothes hung like tarpaulins on her newly slimmer frame, she was forced to go out and purchase new clothing, even down to her operating room scrubs; and everyone she’d ever met in the world commented on how great she looked (ironic, huh, since she felt like crap about the illicit crush thing going on).

In any case, here’s my point: if my quest is to become a “normal” eater, I need to behave like one.  And all the normal eaters I know don’t weigh themselves compulsively on a weekly/daily/hourly basis, if at all.   And as soon as I even write down that thought, I can feel the fear in the depth of my (all-too-expansive) stomach, conveying the message, “But if you don’t weigh yourself regularly, how will you put the kibosh on that rising number?  Won’t you just spiral out of control and suddenly start bingeing recklessly and gaining more and more without end?”  Uh, I hate to break it to you, stomach, but that’s what I seem to be doing, anyway, even with the weekly weigh-ins.

In the end, I’ve decided to keep up with the weekly Progress Tracker, mostly because I’ve set up the blog this way and have sworn to do so.  And knowing that the four of you are reading on a semi-regular basis does help me, to some extent, feel accountable.  (Though I’ve had friends on Weight Watchers tell me that the weekly weigh-in, in front of others, acts as motivation to keep them on track during the week, that’s never really seemed to work for me. Unfortunately, I’ve found that I need to tap into motivation from within myself, rather than from an exterior source, to stay on any kind of healthy eating plan). 

So, I guess it’s back to an earlier principle, picking oneself right back up and starting all over again as if nothing has happened.  And I do believe I’m going to tag that as my second “What Actually Works” strategy

Mum, we don’t care if your weight goes up.  We will still love you anyway. And if you decide to finally stop eating those Banana Oat bars, we’ll help get rid of the leftovers, no problem!”

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Green Drinks

November 1, 2007

If you see a Naturopath or follow the principles of holistic nutrition, you may have heard that drinking “green” drinks can help with sweets cravings.  A green drink is just what it sounds like–a drink made with greens powder, usually containing some form of sea algae or seaweed (such as spirulina or kelp), or a combination of that with dehydrated, ground up green veggies (such as kale, collard, dandelion, etc.).  Often they are flavored or also include some fruit extracts or other immune-boosting elements (such as bee pollen).

I have to admit that I actually like greens drinks.  And I actually really like spirulina–I have it almost every morning with my ground flax seeds, mixed with a little soy or rice milk.  My HH calls it “green slime.”  

 (“We love green slime, Mum!  You can let us lick up the leftovers any time!”).  The greens powder I use is by Nu Life, called Nu Greens.  My two favorite flavors are the apple-banana and tropical (which tastes vaguely of pineapple). 

The theory behind these drinks is that, because they are so heavily alkalized (from all the greens) and ALSO contain magnesium (often attributed to be the cause of chocolate cravings), that they will help to reduce or even eliminate cravings for sugary foods.  Spirulina, in particular, is said to help keep insulin levels steady, another reason some people have sugar cravings.  So I dutifully started drinking more greens on a daily basis about a month ago, sometimes two or three times a day (according to the manufacturer, one serving contains only about 33 calories, so I wasn’t worried), in the hopes that they would inhibit or even prevent the cravings entirely. 

What did I discover?  Well, as I said, that I really like greens drinks.  To my mind, they’re sort of like a very darkly hued, all-natural fruit juice.  And that I can drink quite a few of them in one day (well, at least they help me get my 8 glasses of H2O).  And that they do absolutely nothing to stop my cravings.

So. . . . will I continue to drink them?  Of course I will.  They are extremely good for me, they provide a host of very important minerals and other nutrients, they help keep my blood sugar levels in check.  And I like them.  Have I mentioned that I like them?

If they have helped anyone else out there with cravings, I’d love to know!

[Chaser polishing off the green stuff.]

Radical Advice

October 30, 2007

So, how did skipping dinner (because I ate six cookies in the afternoon) work out for me?

Well, I hate to be the one to contradict virtually all of the “established” advice, but skipping that meal turned out to be a great move. 

Why?  Well, first of all, those six cookies, at about 60 or 70 calories apiece, cumulatively equalled the same calories I would have had in dinner, more or less.  So by skipping dinner, I didn’t consume any extra calories overall.  This meant that I could go to sleep knowing that I hadn’t blown it entirely, that I would likely not gain weight as a result of my impulsive mini-binge.

Second, after eating six cookies in one sitting (okay, separated by maybe three or four minutes between helpings), I felt truly full and bloated.  To force myself to eat something after that, even if it were a healthy dinner, would have been counter-productive.  And it would have contradicted my first rule, to not eat unless I am truly hungry.  (Hey! Wait!  In fact–except for the quantity–I could stretch it and say that eating those cookies did, indeed, comply with that first rule! Oh, all right. . . that’s just deluding myself).  So by skipping dinner, I was teaching my body to STOP EATING once I’d had enough.

Third, the bonus in all this was that I woke feeling okay–not bloated, full, etc.–and wasn’t even hungry for a few hours after waking.  I went about my business in the morning and had regular energy, for which I was thankful.

So, would I advocate skipping a meal if you’ve overindulged?  Well, yes and no.  It did seem to work for me personally, but of course I can’t advise anyone else to do the same.  I can, however, suggest that I will follow this very advice only if I’ve been eating properly the rest of the day, or week, or month. . . in other words, I wouldn’t go around eating cookies for breakfast, lunch and dinner, then skip the next breakfast, lunch or dinner (which would also consist of cookies, or chocolate, or whatever) to compensate. 

Setback

October 29, 2007

Hmmmm. . . guess I should have made that halvah, after all.  Instead, I baked 2 batches of cookies for a last-minute customer, and ended up “taste-testing” 4 of them (okay, five.  Okay, six).  Yes, they were very delicious.  Yes, I feel like crap now and am overwhelmed with guilt.

 BUT WAIT!  No, no, no guilt.  I will never become a normal eater by hating myself for overeating.  So. . . what would a “normal” eater do in this situation?  (Oh, wait, of course, a normal eater would never have eaten six cookies in one sitting in the first place). 

Well, this may be a radical move, but I’m going to do what my slim friends would do:  I’m going to skip dinner to compensate.  So, six cookies, fine; but all the extra calories, not fine.  This is not a punishment.  This is a compensation. This is a natural consequence.  This is a re-balancing of nature.  I will survive without dinner for one evening.  Back to the “normal” routine tomorrow.

Have you ever woken up in the morning, still feeling full from the previous night?  I have to admit it’s happened to me more than I care to remember.  Of course, all that’s over for me now, right?  Hmm.  Not right.

I really thought yesterday was a near-perfect day in terms of meals and portion control.  True, I wasn’t eating a “perfect” selection of foods according to my diet plan, but I did the best I could in terms of a restaurant meal, and my dinner was brilliant (as my friend A would say).  What did I eat, you ask?  I will swallow my pride (along with all those meals) and tell you.

Brunch:  as previously mentioned, a Cora’s skillet.  True, non-organic egg and likely oil in the veggies, but a good choice given the venue.  The only better thing I could have done would be to order the oatmeal and sweeten it with stevia.

Snack: pink grapefruit; water; faux “iced coffee” (my fave:  made with coffee substitute and vanilla rice milk).

Dinner:  raw vegan sushi (made with raw almond pate, nori sheets, cucumber, radish, red pepper, avocado) and a ginger-lemon sweet potato salad (the recipe from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food–which, as it turns out, is a great mag for some interesting vegetarian dishes).  Forgive me the lack of photos, for now; I will post as soon as I can figure out how to do it.

So. . . note that I haven’t mentioned how much of anything I ate.  This is because The Plan allows me to eat as much as I want, until I feel “comfortably full” (I just made up that last part–I assume that’s how much “normal” eaters eat).  And last evening, I did just that–did not overeat, I thought.  Proud of myself for the fabulous minerals in the nori, the protein in the almonds, the many veggies, the beta-carotene, fibre, and low GI in the sweet potatoes.  Not to mention the ginger dressing, a great immune-booster and anti-inflammatory (my eyes said, “thanks”).  And the Girls loved the salad, too (“Yum, Mum, you can make that any time!”).

I want to be able to eat what I want, without worrying too much about how much I’m packing away.  Again, it’s my quest for normalcy:  normal people (ie, those like my honey, without weight issues) eat what they like, when they like, and how much they like.  Unlike me, they don’t overdo it on a regular basis. 

So when I woke up this morning, still feeling a bit bloated from last night’s dinner, I wondered why.  Am I unaccustomed to the additional fiber in those sweet potatoes? Did I actually eat much more than I realized?  Is my digestion so screwed up that I’m unable to process even healthy food effectively? My answer is, “probably a bit of all three.” 

Off to work today, where I’ll consume the remainder of the s.p. salad and perhaps an apple for lunch.  Will see how that leaves me by the afternoon.

For a later post: trying to eat only when I’m really hungry.