Monday, December 26, 2011

Keeping it off - what works for me.

Have you ever said to yourself, "My pants are getting tight. They must have shrunk in the wash." Or walked by a mirror in a department store and thought, "That mirror makes me look fat, it must be at an odd angle." Or caught a glimpse of a fat person walking toward you, and it turned out to be your own reflection in a shop window?

Or - and this was perhaps the worst - given your spouse a hug and he said, "We're quite an armful." Realizing how it sounded, he continued, "I said we, that means both of us.

That was what did it. I wanted no part of being "quite an armful". The pants didn't shrink. After being washed once a week for a year, did I really think they were going to shrink now? The department store mirror wasn't lying. It was my own friendly mirror at home that lied. It never caught me by surprise - I knew just how to stand in front of it to look less fat.

So what to do now? I had dieted lots of times, successfully, if a temporary weight loss can be considered successful. I had done Weight Watchers, gleefully reaching my goal weight. I had kept a food journal, also successfully reaching my goal. What happened next was the problem.

"Oh good! I've finished my diet." were the worst words I could have uttered. The old habits came back gradually until I had gained all the weight I had lost, and more. My healthy weight at 5' 7" is 130 pounds. My "armful" weight was 178 pounds. 48 pounds from a couple of years of bad habits. 48 pounds! One stick of butter is a quarter of a pound. Doing the math, it comes to the amount of fat in 192 sticks of butter spread out over my body! I could see three of them dangling from my upper arm, and I don't like to think of the 12 or 15 around each thigh. That unattractive double chin contained several tablespoons of fat.

I knew how to lose weight; I'd done it before. I needed to find a way to keep it off.

I know myself pretty well, having had 55 years to get acquainted. I know I'm not good at groups. I can always think of a reason to stay home. I'm also on a tight budget, and groups nearly always come with a price.

I did need a few tools, starting with a food journal. Not a 98 cent steno notebook where it's too easy to rip out a page when I've had a piggy day. I use a bound journal, and my first one (this time around) was a lovely dark green suede book with lined pages. I couldn't waste that beautiful book even if I did eat six cookies in one day.

I write down every meal, every snack, every sip of anything that isn't water. These days it is easier than ever to keep an accurate food journal. Every packaged food you buy comes with the nutrition information right on the bag, box, can, jar, or bottle.

I started out interested only in calories. You read those labels often enough, and you start noticing other things: sugar, sodium, carbs, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and US RDA.

When you see the lovely display in the produce section of your favorite food store it all looks and smells so good. Beautiful mounds of oranges, apples, bananas, grapefruit, pineapples, grapes, carrots, lettuce, spinach, and more. These are really food! They don't come in packages with labels saying one orange has 89 calories, 2.2 grams of protein, 100 mg of vitamin C, 69 mg of calcium (really? in an orange? who knew?) and 330 mg of potassium. That information is all available online, but I use my very favorite cookbook of all time, LAUREL'S KITCHEN by Laurel Robertson, Carol Flinders, and Bronwen Godfrey.

My copy was a gift from Larry (you know, the "armful" guy) for our very first Christmas as a married couple, in 1980. It is a vegetarian cookbook, and though we are not vegetarians, I use it all the time, mainly for the nutrition tables in the back of the book.

It tells me that a peach (if God made something better than a peach, he kept it for Himself!) is 38 calories. A peach! Juicy and delicious and only 38 calories. It contains 1300 iu of vitamin A, 200 mg of potassium, and even has 9 mg of calcium. You can really get caught up in those nutrition tables.

Of course we all know that part of God's grace is variety, and not every peach is 38 calories, any more than every sweet potato is 160 calories. To get an accurate count you need a food scale that measures in both grams and ounces. I bought mine online for about $20.

When we have sweet potatoes, spinach, and cottage cheese for dinner, I love to share with my family that these colorful and tasty vegetables we are eating are powerful foods, not to mention a very easy dinner to prepare.

I'll share more another time. This is how I lost 48 pounds, and have been able to keep it off for a few years. The bad news? It didn't happen overnight. The good news? It works! The reason I'm sharing? It's 3:00 in the morning and I woke up hungry. I could hear a corn muffin calling from the kitchen. I diligently wrote it down, bringing to mind the question - which day do you write middle of the night eating in? If it's after midnight I go with the next day.


Daisy said...

It sounds like a good plan, Diana. I guess different methods work for different people. You're lucky to have found something that works for you. I agree about peaches. There's not much better that I can think of to eat than a fresh, juicy peach. Unfortunately, they aren't in season here where we live for very long. Time to move to Georgia! haha! :D

I hope you had a nice Christmas and your new year is filled with blessings.

Gingerbreadshouse7 said...

There you go spoiling my "snack attack"!
I've been really working on my B/S it has taken a year to get from 300 :o( down to under 100...not feeling well last night I made some Mullein tea (2:30am) with honey, and this morning @8:33 am the count was up to 139 :o( I won't worry because I know what did it..and I can bring it down during this day..You have to be on constant awareness for weight, B/S , or what ever can get you out of the loop of health.

Suzanne said...

Diana I love your idea. Ever year I tell myself I will loose some weight. Like you I have done weight watchers successfully, exercised and got to my goal weight. However the photos never lie especially the ones caught off guard so yes I think its time for me to journal my food intake, eat what I want as long as I journal.

Suzanne said...

Diana I also want to say a big thank you to my friend for your wonderful surprise that arrived this week. I really do appreciate and you must have been able to hear me often tell Brooke I needed a new bag.
Thank you.

Dorothy said...

Daisy pointed me to your blog with her post about weight loss. I invite you to look at my blog Counting My Blessings. I've lost 25 pounds and have 10-15 more I hope to lose. It's great that you lost the weight and have kept it off!!! is a free web site where you can easily enter your food each day and they do the math on the calories, nutrients, etc. and much, much more. Kudos to you!!!

Locket Pocket said...

I love that you were having a debate with yourself about which day to count your midnight muffin on! ;o) I was finding that Slimming World (do you have that in America?) was working for me up until my birthday last September, since then it has been a lot harder - I just want to eat things I shouldn't. From April to Christmas I lost 2 stone 10.5lbs which is 38.5lbs (I think?!) but I managed to put 9 back on over Christmas - but I had such a great time doing it!! I don't feel as motivated these days to diet but I still have about 40lbs to lose so I need to keep trying to focus.

Wishing you a very happy new year Diana!

Lucy xx