Had to face it. Lack of exercise since an unfortunate knee replacement a few years ago started a steady weight gain, and the fun of being at home in lockdown with my son Christopher this past year cooking, eating and watching movies together (wouldn’t trade it!! 🙂 ) did make it worse.
This isn’t the first time I’ve faced the need for substantial weight loss. But this time, for the first time, I decided to figure out what in the world it’s about. Taking a cue from one of my favorite bloggers, I’m sharing a very personal post in hopes that it will encourage someone to “Know Thyself” as I have had to do in the past few months.
I started this new project with five questions.
Why do I think I need to lose weight?
Do I need to, and am I willing to, pay for someone/something to help me lose weight?
What is food to me, really?
What have been the pitfalls to lasting balance?
I’m a problem solver. Is now the time to solve this problem?
Facts and feelings ~ honestly answering the questions
Why? In short, at my age and stage, excess weight is a health and mobility concern. In addition, because I’m tall, I feel quite conspicuous in a group when I’m also overweight. Further, if I’m honest, I like to be in control of my life and choices; for me, overweight is a sign of lack of discipline — I’ve been eating more than my share, more than I need. And, frankly, I have a closet full of clothes that I would like to be able to wear again.
Buy some help? I haven’t committed to exercising on my own, and I’m already a good cook with excellent food sense. So, maybe a paid nutrition/exercise program would be fun, but I can’t justify spending money on something or someone to tell me that it’s time to eat good food within a reasonable calorie range. So, I might buy another exercise bike (used the last one as a coat tree), or join a gym (last time, my payroll deduction for the membership averaged about $150 per visit for lack of use), or hire a trainer (the best coach on earth for me just moved out of my house), but not until I see the expense would be worth it.
Food is … comfort, celebration, pastime, fellowship, skill, discovery. I love cooking, eating, sharing food, reading recipes, stirring leftovers into something new and satisfying. I enjoy all of it! However, I’m particularly sensitive to sugar and that, along with every other aspect of my relationship with food, makes for an ongoing a challenge. Only by curtailing sugar consumption to restore my body’s chemistry can I achieve lasting results. Like an alcoholic.
Here I go again? Still, I have eliminated sugar before without feeling deprived. More than once, in fact. Years ago I picked up a book called The Five-Day Miracle Diet. It describes how to, in just five days, rebalance your system and eliminate cravings. It absolutely works for me. So, having experienced that freedom (truly, it’s challenging for those five days and then it’s smooth sailing!), why am I back here?
Emotional eating — Crisis? Food. Lifetime milestone? Food. Bored, lonely, sad? Food! I’ve generally used food for everything but nutrition.
Making it a sprint, not a marathon — Get the extra weight off and then get back to life as I know it. Nope. The margins around food choice for me can become a little wider down this road, but not much. It’s going to be a long game.
The scale is my friend, my enemy, my friend — Any inching up on a given morning is enough to throw off the entire plan. Either stick with it or stop weighing.
Cut, cut, cut calories and stall out my metabolism — SO frustrating! Turns out, the answer is actually eat more and Measure the Macros! More on that shortly.
Not knowing my own needs — Everybody else has the perfect plan, right? Except, we each need very specific physical and emotional helps to succeed. Trying to do everyone else’s thing has proven completely useless. This really is all about me creating, owning, and adapting a plan I like, and knowing when to say yes and no.
Isn’t that pretty? You do come to appreciate the small blessings! 🙂 I add 100 grams of boneless, skinless chicken breast, 4 teaspoons of dressing, and whatever else I’d like, such as diced red onions or chopped asparagus. Today’s salad featured salmon instead of chicken.
A new day
So. A new day has dawned, thanks to some excellent guidance from my fit son Christopher, and the ease of the MyFitnessPal app. This is what I’m doing, and why I think it’s working.
* I’m the one driving. I start with a calorie budget each night and I “spend” it however I want making the next day’s plan within a healthful calorie range an eye toward a macro ratio of no more than 20% net carbs, no less than 42% protein, and the rest healthy fats.
* I measure and log EVERYTHING using a dandy little countertop scale and MyFitnessPal on the iPad (with keyboard!) I really can’t say enough about MFP. It’s been a life changer, but only because I have it on a device with a keyboard. I was never going to log anything on my phone. I tried. I even tried it with the no-typing “Talk to Track” app. I bought the premium MFP version and will likely use it the rest of my life. As Christopher says, “what gets measured gets managed.”
* I plan for a snack and a treat every single day. For me, that’s half an apple during the day, and a small, extravagant serving of crunchy peanut butter at night. I plan for them, look forward to them, and enjoy them ~ so I don’t feel deprived. It turns out, my balance point for satisfaction and weight loss at my level of activity is just under 1000 calories.
* If there’s a name for this plan, it’s probably in the “Keto” and “Slow Carb” family. Recipes online have brought variety to what I invent on my own.
* Finally, I know I’m an immersion learner. I go “all in” on projects. Plans that allow for 5 days on and 2 days off, for example, don’t work for me. A popular fitness guru suggests regular binge and cheat days, but then not only do I feel I need to make up for it the next day, but it throws my sugar/carb response out of whack and I’m back to cravings. Rather than taking cheat days to start the usual downward spiral, if I want to splurge, I plan ahead and stay within the calorie/macro framework. Guilt free.
I grew up in a family with roots in the middle southern U.S. Traditions around food run deep. Hearty meals shared freely signify love, comfort, and hospitality. Meat, potatoes, vegetables, lots of cream and gravy, and unfailingly scrumptuous desserts of all kinds, the more the better, all say Home. Needless to say, a green spinach shake and whey protein is a comedown. ~Or maybe not. They were also resourceful and determined people who knew how to “make do.” So am I. This, too, can be good.
If any of this resonates with you, may you be blessed in your sense of purpose, find joy in the progress you make, and learn from the lessons in occasional setbacks along the way. Stay with it, be kind to yourself, and find your path. You can do it!