Weigh-in: Paper Plates

flickr.com/photos/gaylon/

flickr.com/photos/gaylon/

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.

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When the Moon Hits Your Eye

Riding the bus home from work in the already-dark yesterday evening, I felt extremely dejected. I feel much better now, but at the moment I was in the emotion, I felt like crap. I was staring out the bus window thinking morbid thoughts when a glimpse of the moon appeared between buildings and treetops.

It was huge, and round, and bright.

It reminded me of pizza.

I was very hungry, and not in a good frame of mind. I decided that when I got home, I would order a medium cheese pizza, eat it all myself, and then hate myself a lot. I had a plan. I take comfort in plans, even when they are counterproductive and willfully self-destructive.

I got home and went to the pizza place’s website—no human interaction required!—and paused slightly. What would John eat when he got home, if I only ordered pizza for myself? I didn’t want to share my medium cheese pizza with him. I want to do this thing proper and I was NOT GOING TO SHARE. But then I considered our finances and realized it was stupid to get us each a separate pizza, so I compromised and ordered a large pizza, half plain and half with his favorite toppings on it. It was still not the healthiest choice I could have made last night, but it was an improvement. I even calculated that I could eat all four of my slices and still be within my weekly bonus Points allowance.

Quoi? But if that happened, would I still have license to wallow in self-loathing afterward? Oh, probably not. Dammit. But it was too late. I had already made the less-dysfunctional choice.

Which worked out well, because soon after the pizza arrived, I had a great phone call and felt lots better about myself and life in general. I didn’t want to spend the evening hating on myself. I ate three slices of pizza, marked it in my food journal, and was at peace with the choice I had made. How strange for me.

My First Week on Weight Watchers

I’ll be heading to my first weigh-in straight from work this evening, and right now I can honestly say I’m strangely relaxed about it. In previous Weight Watching incarnations, I was fraught with tension pre-weigh-in because I felt that if I hadn’t lost a certain amount of weight that week, it meant the whole effort was pointless.

I have followed the Points system quite well this first week; my main problem was not always getting in the 5 daily fruits and vegetables that are part of the WW healthy guidelines. This week I will do a little better in that area. I haven’t really created a regular exercise schedule yet, and that’s also on tap for this week. Exercise tends to make a lot of difference in my weight-loss progress. I don’t want to overdo it, but I would like to get out there and walk 5 days a week. Who’s with me?

Ever since I decided it was okay if the weight came off slowly, I’ve been feeling a lot better about life in general and getting in shape in particular. Once I decided to focus on two goals for the coming year (improving my mental health and getting out of the obese category), I felt quite a bit of tension subside. If you are stressing out right now about life and can postpone a few of your goals in order to focus on the one or two most important ones and devote a full year to these, I highly recommend it.

Did anyone else watch Ruby last night? What did you think? I will definitely be tuning in for the next episode. My boyfriend and I watched it together and both agreed that a lot of interesting and important points came up in the show. And as one person on the Ruby message boards commented, “it’s a REAL reality show,” if you know what I mean. No host, no zany challenges, just a very large woman facing her beast.

No Wire Hangers! No Instant Oatmeal!?

This morning I arose from my bed singing a showtune and gracefully stepped outside to pick some produce and herbs from my garden. Then I road my bicycle to the farmer’s market where I purchased 100-percent grass-fed free-range beef and chicken. As I peddled home under a blue sky, I thought of the delicious concoctions I would soon be whipping up in the large, stainless-steel theater that is my immaculate kitchen. The heavens opened wide and angels started singing my name in praise and then I woke up and realized that I have a cold, there is no vegetable garden in the backyard (mostly mud and shade, if you must know), and I never learned how to cook.

Weight loss is hard for me in part because in order to succeed I will have to abandon certain perfectionist notions. For example, consider the thoughts that ran through my head as I dragged my cough-wracked body through HEB this morning: You have failed if you get non-organic bananas! Anyway all bananas are from faaar away and you are killing the environment regardless. Your carbon footprint is the size of Lake Erie! Followed by: Frozen fish fillets? Are you fucking joking? You should be catching them fresh. With your bare hands. And then, in short order: Instant oatmeal?!! You philistine, has all your research taught you nothing?! They must be steel-cut oats. Steel. Cut. I had a vision of Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford looming over me: “No instant foods . . . EVAR!!!”

I have to ignore that voice (although it makes some valid points occasionally), because if I truly indulged in its rants I would never begin. Never change. Paralyzed by inaction, I would continue my daily diet of candy, cranium-sized muffins, takeout, and pizza. As the 12-steppers say: Progress, not perfection is the order of the day. For me, eating even a single piece of fruit per day is progress. And today I’ve already had two! For those of you who’ve been on the healthy eating track for a long time, that may sound paltry. But for me it’s a major improvement in just the single day I’ve been back on Weight Watchers.

Although convenience foods (like instant oatmeal and Lean Cuisine Spa meals) still figure into my new food plan, I’m mixing it up by actually making some meals myself. To an individual more accomplished in the kitchen than I, making hamburgers tonight might sound like nothing. But for me? Major! So what if the bun is filled with ingredients whose names I can’t pronounce (I can see Michael Pollan frowning down on me from his locally-fed, sustainable cloud); well, it’s still a start. My primary goal is to lose weight eating from all the food groups, and to keep my sanity.

For the record, I really enjoy Michael Pollan’s work and the writings of the many passionate and idealistic real-food fans out there. Sometimes I admire them all so much that I think: Why bother? I’ll never be that green, that healthy, that self-sustaining. But then I set myself straight, re-visit my priorities, and realize afresh that Numero Uno is to lose weight and start incorporating fruits and veggies into my life again. Once I’m in a groove with that, then I can add some other stipulations, such as visiting the (admittedly awesome) farmer’s market for a few items Saturday mornings and sticking to buying only free-range meat all the time.

In the meantime, I’ll do what my budget and mental health allow for. Today, that meant store-brand lean ground beef and organic eggs and chicken. Not perfect, but progress. I’ll take it.

Soundbite of the Day

“Counting calories is so 1980s.”

Soooooo 80s.

Soooooo 80s.

This one comes from a tap dancer in a Broadway musical. In a recent New York Times article, however, she goes on to admit, “But when it’s right there, it’s kind of hard to ignore.” She’s referring to the recent policy of listing calorie counts on menus in New York.

They say that everything comes back around. Like when flared pants came back for that brief period in the 90s. And, more recently, those mod mini-dresses. So why not calorie-counting? If Atkins could make a comeback, why not the unglamorous yet persistent calorie? Indeed.

Soon they’ll be renaming it the nouveau calorie-based weight-loss plan. Shortened to NCBWLP, naturally, because acronyms sound authoritative. Someone go buy that web domain, STAT! Let’s make lots of money.

Everything old is new again. Except my lime-green raver pants from 1996. I suspect they may never be poised for a comeback.