Wheat Belly Flop

Even as I read the first section of “Wheat Belly” I knew it was too good to be true. What is true is that I need to lose a significant amount of weight around my middle. Welcome to middle age! Have you heard yet about yo-yo dieters dilemma? (Hello, my name is Cindy, and I am a yo-yo dieter. I think 99% of us are) If you never gain weight, you won’t have that middle age gain. If you gain and lose a bunch of times, you are likely to keep the belly and no magic trick like not eating wheat will save you.

If you have Celiac’s, don’t eat wheat. Otherwise, it’s all about portion control wrapped in a new package. I eat too much bread and pasta. Period. So I decided I’d try to go “wheatless” and see what happened. Lots of beans and rice, fruit and veggies. Yougurt, peanut butter on a spoon instead of bread, cheese cubes but no crackers. South Beach, Atkins, done them all. More than once. I know that eating less carbs is going to help me lose weight.

So I tried it. And after a few days, I ate a sleeve of Saltines. Yes, the entire sleeve. I am not proud of myself but I did learn something. It is not good to cut all wheat from my diet. Some people under 50 might think, as I did, that there must be a magic age when you can stop worrying about your weight. And there is. But then that vanity worry is replaced with health concerns. Too much fat around the middle is the root of all evil and every disease on the planet.

This past year I let my natural hair grow in. It’s “salt and pepper” but the salt is silver and I really like it. It’s like a sheen over my hair. Plus no more three hour salon appointments at $200 a pop. That’s nice. So the truth is, there is a time when we can give up vanity. I have. But only to a point. I’m a litte worried about losing weight. I see what happens to my friends faces when they lose it. I think I’ll be okay with ten pounds gone, face-wise. But twenty? Which is what I really need to lose? (OK, 30 would be the doctor’s joy, but I can only kid myself so far…) All those sagging flaps of skin–a little scary.

I know for a fact that I’ll be losing some lbs this weekend. I have a colonoscopy (forget I mentioned it until you turn 50) scheduled so I’m going to be clean as a whistle without a crumb in my tummy come Monday morning. And even though the wheat belly flopped, I am watching my carbs again. They are my true weakness. Well, carbs and sugar. And wine.

Picture

I’ve been staring at this picture for awhile now. It’s on my fridge, which is where I put pictures people send me in the mail. This particular photo shows six or seven women. Everyone is wearing black and I am wearing an ivory top with an overlay of floaty ruffles. It’s a beautiful piece, one of the prettiest things I own. But it makes me look like a marshmallow. At least in that picture.

I have read enough self-help books to understand that hating myself for the way I look in a picture (You should see how fat my face is! A big bloated puff ball. And my bangs, even after all my work– spray, flat iron, spray again–still ended up in the dorky curl they seem to do these days!) is just going to make me sad.

I kept that picture on my fridge for a week. Maybe two. I loved that I was surrounded by friends, and we were all celebrating. But I couldn’t get over the image of myself. I even went downstairs to the scale. Because sometimes a photo will make me start or renew a diet and fitness program. About a month ago I quit sugar and I have only had sugar once since then. No cake, no cookies, no ice cream. Okay, well, there was an ice cream incident. But only one.  

So I’m already trying, is my point in that last paragraph. No meat, no sugar, yoga, meditation. I still overeat at lunch, but yesterday I had a banana/chocolate soy protein shake and it really satisfied me. Anyway, the scale. I took it into the bathroom because it was on the carpet and everyone knows you don’t weigh yourself on carpet. The number was well past what I have ever weighed and it couldn’t be right because I would not be able to zip up my jeans if that number were correct. So I moved the scale to a more level space and the number was so low I knew it couldn’t be right because if it was my jeans would fall off. 

I need to buy a new scale and throw that picture into the trash.

(I Need To) Change

Last night I saw Dr. Daniel Amen on PBS. This was my first experience of the good doctor and it lit me up. If you don’t know who he is, he writes and speaks about health and the brain. I was surprised to see how many books he has out. Really? A diet guru I have not heard about? A new diet plan I have not tried? To say the least, I was intrigued.

I justs spent over a month reading The Lean by Kathy Freston and following her simple plan. That book helped me cut sugar from my diet. I didn’t lose much weight, but I was able to fit back into my jeans and am happy to have control over my sugar addiction. Freston is also the writer who converted me to vegetarianism several years ago.

So why I am still 25 pounds overweight? Part of it is the amount of food I eat, and the times I “cheat” with horrible foods like potato chips, bagels, cheese & crackers. Part of it is, I am very sorry to say, wine. I don’t consume anywhere near the wine I used to, but Amen says to cut that almost completely out. My friends who successfully lose weight and keep it off do not drink alcohol.

Another reason I’m too big for my brain’s health is lack of exercise, which also causes blue moods, cranky moods, lack of energy, negative thinking. I blame a lot of my personal woes on lack of exercise. I’m so unmotivated in that area. I was not always this way. Until I started taking medication for migraine and insomnia, I always exercised. I liked it! I had a gym membership, I rode my bike, I took long walks. All my life before medication I was an active person.

I have to give myself credit. I eat clean. I juice kale every week. I do some yoga every day. I meditate every single day. Sometimes, like once every month, get on my treadmill or lift weights. I need to walk 4 times a week & lift twice a week. Plus keep the yoga. Which is no problem because I love yoga.

Weight around the middle, and the health problems it causes, is one of the top reasons for brain deterioration. Dr. Amen had lots of pictures. Before and after brains. He gave a checklist for people who can’t just run down and get a scan. If you have any of these red flags, like extra weight, fatigue, brain fog, insomnia, chronic pain, or depression, chances are good that your brain is not in good health.

One thing he said that really got to me, he called it the #1 secret to better brain health: um. I can’t remember the word. That’s called brain fog. And Amen says memory loss as we age is not an inevitable state. But that word. It started with a C…contemplative? I think that’s it. People who are healthy and who overcome their brain-harming addictions are contemplative, that is, they think before they act, and when they act, they do so in a way that helps, not hurts, their brains.

I’ve been impulsive and impatient all my life. I like to hide from pain, any kind of pain, including hunger. I eat to stop bad feelings from bubbling up. I need to change. I need to become comtemplative when it comes to my body and my brain’s health. 

I had just about given up on trying to lose my girth. I mean, really, no meat, no sugar, whole grains, and I’m still overweight? It’s hopeless. Nope. I eat the right things most of the time, I just eat too much of them. At my age, vanity is  not the issue. The issue is being in good mental and physical health as I age so my husband does not have to take care of me.