Weigh-in: Paper Plates



At today’s Weight Watchers meeting I weighed in and was met with a loss of 2.0 lbs. Right on! I just have to keep on keepin’ on, know what I mean? I’ve long known that persistence is the true challenge in this endeavor.

During the meeting we all wrote what we plan to eat for Thanksgiving dinner on paper plates (with stickers on them, no less) and then added up the Points in the food and talked about the importance of being prepared for holiday foodfests. (On a related note, I’ve made up my mind to forgo indulging much at work-related functions and plan to enjoy a bit more seasonal cuisine at the two big family holiday dinners: Thanksgiving and Christmas. Those represent the spirit—and tastiness—of the season much more to me than an ordered-in buffet served out of vat-like containers, or a big mess of store-bought cookies.)

As far as my weekend goals are concerned, I’ve hit three out of four: moved some more of my stuff out of the storage unit, weighed in, and . . . joined a gym! The last one is the most exciting :). I worked out by walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes today, which may not be much but is definitely a start.

What I didn’t accomplish this weekend: Buying a simple cookbook full of healthy meals. This was not for lack of trying, because I spent a good hour in Borders sitting in a chair and flipping through a big pile of cookbooks. I kept being torn between the “light” cookbooks and the introductory/beginner’s cookbooks like How to Boil Water, which doesn’t include calorie counts with its recipes but does provide a good foundation of general cooking knowledge. After a while, my head started to spin so I decided to sleep on it all for a night or two!

General summary of how I felt this past week:

I’m not going to lie: it was a rough one, emotionally, when it came to my eating plan. On the outside, things were reasonably low-stress in my life, but I had a lot of inner turmoil regarding the food choices I’m making and the plan (Weight Watchers Flex Plan) that I’m following. I have found myself gravitating more to the “easy,” more processed food choices that my sweet tooth wants (Fiber One Oats & Chocolate bars) as opposed to the more wholesome options (celery with nut butter, or hummus on a whole-wheat pita).

In a way, the more processed foods, like the grab-and-go bars, are the “paper plates” of food, and the foods that take a little more thought for me or a bit of preparation are the “good china.” This is a war I’m waging in my head and in my body, and unless you have spent time truly addicted to sugary, processed foods, you cannot understand how painful it is sometimes. You just can’t. The mental battle takes a major emotional toll, as well as a physical one. It even affects your relationships at times. A feeling of dis-ease takes over. You don’t feel “right.” You are used to your paper plates. You are feeling vulnerable and tired, on top of all that. It ain’t easy, chickens.

Last week I discussed my pity pizza-fest, and Dr. J from CalorieLab offered this take on things:

I’m going to give you some real advice, OK? Learn to make your own healthier version of a pizza. No it’s not store bought, but it will get you past those times when you are weak. Occasionally get the store bought. Over time, you will enjoy and be satisfied by what you make. Trust me, you need to diminish your dependence on fat, sugar and salt or you will not pull this weight loss thing off, nor sustain it. Very few people are successful at weight loss and there are reasons for it, that if you do not deal with, you will not make it either. That’s the way it is. I’m sorry. I will not tell you this again.

How are you at taking constructive criticism? Mature, thoughtful, objective? Me neither—at least not at first. I am what could be facetiously called a fragile flower. I felt almost crushed by this advice; like I had disappointed a favorite uncle. I’m only two weeks into this weight-loss program, and I constantly question myself and the nutritional wisdom I’m bombarded with every five seconds. I’m hungry more than I’m comfortable with. I’ve wanted to throw in the towel multiple times. And now I felt like I was being told by someone I respect that I wasn’t doing enough. In other words, I focused right in on the “or you will not pull this weight loss thing off” part without soaking in the sound advice surrounding it. I fear this is a habit of mine. Tunnel vision for the negative.

Luckily, I decided to stop being such a baby about it. When I got beyond my bruised ego, I realized that I pretty much agree with everything Dr. J is saying in his comment. I just felt irritated and disappointed in myself that I can’t seem to get to that place of nutritional wholeness instantly. I’m slow and can still be side-tracked by frozen treats. But here I have an actual doctor giving me personal advice, and I am not going to ignore it! Not to mention the fact that I—the turtle!—totally read into the comment that I had to make these changes in the blink of an eye, rather than gradually. I have a habit of transforming everything into black/white, all/nothing propositions.

It just goes to show that our lives are shaped much more by our take on things than by actual events themselves. Our perceptions have so much power. If I can train my thoughts to perceive that I should use the good china regularly, pretty soon those paper plates will look much less attractive. If I can be kind but firm with myself, I stand a much greater chance of success.


8 Responses

  1. First of all, CONGRATS on the two pounds! That’s awesome!

    Now on to the topic of instant changes. I agree with Dr. J, in theory, but changing a lifetime of bad habits isn’t something one just *does.* It takes time (and effort, of course), but FOR ME, trying to instantly (usually on a Monday) change everything about the way I ate always led to failure. This time, I took it slowly, first eliminating the “ugly snacks in even uglier quantities” in favor of the 100-calorie treats (one per day, max), then replacing my much beloved and still truly missed breakfast biscuits with Fiber One bars and other grab-and-go options. And so on. A year and 100 pounds later, I still eat too much processed food for my liking, but I’m oh-so-much better at it than I was.
    Fwiw, I think you’ll do fine with turtle/tippy toe changes, consistently applied, with a long term result that will have Dr. J. standing up and cheering! :)

  2. I’m sorry if “my advice” seems brutal. I want you to be successful, and I’ve seen too many failures. What I said, is what I believe. Of course , you don’t need to take it, as you know we all are warned not to listen to Internet advice. I’m cheering you on. But really, I’d rather give you what I feel is honest advice that will help you. When I said, I wouldn’t tell you again, I meant I would not nag you about it. Weight Watchers is a good system. But the real goal must be a normal relationship with food, and I fear that the food industry uses the fat, sugar, salt system to keep people from reaching this. I really feel that if we can lessen our dependence on this we can have an easier time with the whole food and health thing.

  3. Cammy, thanks for the encouragement and the turtle-step understanding :).

    Dr. J, your advice is awesome—I just needed to marinate on it all and relax my hypersensitivity.

  4. Great job on the loss and joining a gym! Once you keep going, you’ll look forward to it!

  5. Thanks Liz! Like you, believe it or not, I’m very sensitive also :-)

    I wanted to say two other things. One is that slow and steady is an excellent way to go. Although I have learned what works best for me, it didn’t happen overnight. I had to slowly find my way also. The other thing is, I know you read diet-blog. There is a poster there “Spectra, ” who I feel could be a good person for you to learn from. I say this because she was at her heaviest at around 20 years old or so, learned weight watchers from her mom, and lost 80 pounds, and has maintained it for 8 years or more. She learned from weight watchers, but went on to learn how to do it really well without weight watchers. She is very fit, and I agree with almost ever thing she says about how to lose weight and be healthy. She knows how better than me, because she went through it herself.

    PS A story about me and turtles:

    We have gopher tortises all over my neighborhood! (sort of a turtle) One day I saw the one that lived in my yard about 100 yards down the road walking away from the house. I figured he was lost, so I picked him up and carried him back to his burrow. Later that day, there he was again down the road! I came to understand he was probably going to visit his girlfriend, and I set him back a half day :) See, I’m not so smart with turtles, but I do learn :-)

  6. Thanks, biz319! I just keep putting one foot in front of the other….

    Dr. J, I will definitely keep my eyes peeled for Spectra on Diet Blog. Also: I have totally done the same thing with turtles! We have a big pond of them near my office, and I “rescued” a few that were crawling off until I realized they were probably going to lay their eggs ;).

  7. Dr. J is a good source of advice!

    I really like your analogy of the plates. And I think you’ve made an excellent point with all that.

    I think that a major part of this post, about the processed foods, is a really important thing to take into consideration. It is TOUGH to get away from processed foods, but it feels wonderful to get out of that habit. And the body sure appreciates it.

    Sometimes I forget how hard it is to reduce processed foods- and then I’ll have just a little bit and suddenly I find myself craving it and feeling addictive (sugar high!). But I think as long as we’re aware of the effect it has we can learn to discipline ourselves and train ourselves to gravitate naturally to whole foods. Half the battle is mental strength!

    PS Congrats with the loss! And especially your success in your goals; that’s incredibly awesome and impressive.

  8. Thanks, Sagan :). It seems like myself and a lot of people I know live paper-plate lives, at least in terms of our health choices, if not in other ways.

    It’s great that you are able to put yourself back in the shoes of a person who’s pretty much addicted to sweetened and processed foods! I think it helps a lot to understand where lots of frustrated people are coming from. It’s great to know that it *is* possible to break the habit, though :).

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