Down With Diets

Ten days ago, I started doing a few of the practices in a book that promises to increase emotional intelligence, especially around eating. I’ve known for years I’m an emotional eater, but I’d never really figured out what to do about that, how to change it. Eat Q showed me how. There are many more practices than I can list here, but the two that did me the most good were “Pause” and good old journaling.

“Pause” is just that. Whenever I wanted to eat anything for any reason, I paused a few seconds to figure out what kind of hunger I was feeling. At first, it was hardly ever actual hunger. Mostly it was cravings. I followed the cravings back to how I was feeling in that moment. That was the tricky part because I tend to avoid feeling my feelings when I eat. I just eat. So journaling helped me explore the feelings thing.

Frequent food emotions were a vague anxiety, or sadness, just a little bit, lonely, too, or bored, even happy, and often feeling like I wanted to treat myself. Because I deserved it. Over the course of ten days I tuned into and recorded all these feelings and more every single time I wanted to eat. I figured out very quickly that my emotions were really running the show and I determined I’d put them in their place, deal with them in healthier ways than with chocolate, potato chips, or cookies.


I learned that “healthy eating” consists of a plate of food that is half high health, like fruit, vegetables and protein. Then a quarter of the plate can be medium healthy, like whole grains or good dark chocolate. The final quarter of the plate can be any number of less healthy foods like crackers or a hamburger bun or even a handful of potato chips.

I decided I wanted to eat healthy more than I wanted to soothe my emotions with food. With that decision, I took the last step in the “Pause” sequence. I thought about the consequences of emotional eating, I gauged my actual hunger level, and I made the healthy choice. I got it right 28 out of 30 times. And the few times I did eat less healthy, it was only a little bit, and I didn’t feel guilty, I didn’t binge, and I got right back on track.

Losing weight was not part of my plan–I just wanted to be in control of my emotions instead of mindlessly letting them rule my diet and my life. It was surprising how very easy it was to do most of the time. The first few days I had cravings, but soon enough, as I gave myself time to figure things out, the cravings stopped. I found myself going from three hours between meals to four and even five hours. I never felt deprived. Instead, I feel proud of myself for sticking with that sometimes tedious “Pause” and journaling process. And even though it wasn’t planned, I lost weight while eating lasagne.

Beautiful Eye Candy

Yesterday on Facebook somebody said I was “more beautiful than when I was in high school” and called me “eye candy” and said he hoped Al knew how lucky he was. So I told Al all of this because he has never once called me beautiful or eye candy. Al said, “well, but I think you are!” You know Al, man of few words. Then today he called me and said “Hi beautiful eye candy” haha. Gotta love that guy. But the truth is, I’m more wrinkled and weigh lots more than in high school.
In high school I was not overweight. At all. But on the other hand, I did not wear any make up, did not wear nice clothes (just jeans and flannel shirts), and did not do anything to my hair. It was a wild mess of split ends. I was not pretty, but some boys thought I was “cute” even though I had those huge Gloria Steinem glasses. They didn’t suit my face at all.
After about age 35, I gained lots of weight. 50 pounds. I lost and gained hundreds of pounds over the last several years. Just as Dr. Dukan (who I will talk more about in a minute) says is typical dieting human behavior, when I hit anything over the 30 pound limit in my head, I started to cup down. Ten pounds kept off from Weight Watchers, ten more from becoming vegetarian, and ten more when I cut sugar. I still have about twenty to lose, and sometimes it creeps back up to thirty like recently when I hurt my knee and could not walk or do yoga for TWO months!
That thirty pounds is my bingo! And I start to eat healthier again. But with so many restrictions on my foods, it is a challenge to know what is right for me and what will work and what I can live with. I like my wine! But I think Dr. Dukan has got me covered. I can have a glass of wine twice a week on his diet, and even two glasses. That’s plenty. This has been a grueling weight, feeling the pounds creep on, helpless to stop the spoonful of ice cream from entering the mouth. If you’re still reading this,  you’ve been there.
Tomorrow I will get my physical therapy script from my doc and boy I can’t wait. I have not weighed myself since the knee injury because I know without much activity and with the recent descent back into the madness that is sugar I have added back on the ten that just won’t leave. The last food plan I followed had me cut carbs to the bone, eat a lot of fat “fat doesn’t make you fat” and it worked really well. I lost those ten pounds in two weeks. But I felt sick a lot because I don’t have a gall bladder so the fat didn’t agree with me.
I knew I had to find another food plan, this one for life, that would agree with my system. In waltzes Dr. Dukan. He is also anti-sugar which I know works for me. He is high protein, not high fat. Yay! Now that I am (reluctantly) not a vegetarian anymore, I can work his program. He’s got two ways of working it and the first one is very similar to the one I followed last time, with the severe withdrawl of all carbs and sugars. I’ll lose ten pounds in two weeks again.
But he has another plan I’m interested in that I don’t know a lot about yet as I only got the book yesterday and I’m reading all his research, prefaces, and theories. He’s wordy. But basically I think this one MAY BE the one to get those final twenty pounds off as it looks at first glance like it’s a plan I can easily follow for life. I’ll let you know, you beautiful eye candy!

Day #2 Holiday Diet

I think I did pretty well yesterday considering I hosted a dinner party. The main dish was Beef Burgundy, so I didn’t partake of that. Just some noodles I served on the side. And salad. And 2 or 3 glasses of wine. Possibly four. I did well on  the appetizers too, only having one mini-quiche and 1 salmon dip cracker. Didn’t care for the dip. That always helps.

But the Ritz crackers Al insists on serving with the dip were pretty good, so I had 4 or 5 of those. Maybe 8. No more than 10. Had leftover pizza for lunch. OK calories not great there but I really dislike throwing away food. Al might have eaten it, but he didn’t get a chance.

Cereal with banana for breakfast. And lots of coffee with fat free vanilla creamer. I think there’s lots of sugar in that. Should read labels more. Oh and then I had a mid-day snack of chips and salsa. Tortilla chips. Whole wheat tortilla chips. Healthy.

I know before I can get serious about this I need to count calories. What bugs me about that is I can only eat 1200 a day to lose a pound a week. A friend of mine eats about 2,000 calories a day and is not overweight. That’s almost double my food! So then the slippery slope of how unfair life is begins. Maybe everyone gets to eat 2000 calories a day. Maybe I am the only person in the world (besides my dad, also a perpetual dieter) who can only have half of what everyone else is chowing on.

Life is not fair! My friend does exercise daily. Not yoga, sigh. Walking and weight lifting. Hello Treadmill you sadist you.


Expecting a Miracle

The other day I picked up my special journal, the one I paid $30 for at Papyrus in January 2013. I don’t usually spend that much cash on special journals. They’re kind of a pain to write in; I prefer spiral topped lined notebooks with strong backs. But I was compelled to buy the journal and decided I’d only record special events in it.

I read it the other day and was amazed at all the changes I’ve gone through in 2013 and how random and careless my entries seemed. One factor stood out: I had tried to lose weight, and bemoaned almost every entry that it wasn’t happening. But when I added up all the pounds, I saw that I had lost 15 pounds and kept it off…until Thanksgiving. Now my jeans are tight again and I need to reign myself back in. I rather liked being medium instead of large.

Of course it’s complete folly to go on a diet during the holidays. I am terrible at depriving myself. If there is chocolate, I will eat it. If there is wine, I will drink it. If there are potato chips, well, that’s my preferred trifecta of gluttony. The way I lost the weight was to not have any of these things in my house. Well, I always have wine, but I left it corked. And I took to eating two squares of dark chocolate most days. The taste is so intense I had no urge to binge. As for the chips, I just said no. (Whereas right now I write the word “chips” and want to devour a bag.)

I have been reading books about the brain and impulse control. I know that I need to train myself to say no to certain trigger foods and all will be well with the weight and health. The longer I train myself to say no, the more I succeed. It’s that simple. However…

Yesterday, my complete list of food included every bad thing plus pizza. Not a vegetable passed my lips. Well, the mushrooms on the pizza. But I am determined to do better, no matter how hopeless or inconvenient it seems. Christmas is a time for miracles and I’m asking for one now.