Monday, October 31, 2011

Chocolate season is here!

"I never met a chocolate I didn't like." - Deanna Troi, Star Trek: The Next Generation

There are tell-tale signs of the end of summer: colder nights, inopportune commuting delays due to school buses and the appearance of massive bags of Halloween chocolate. The end of summer means the beginning of fall, one step closer to the blistering winds and snow drifts of winter. But it's not only a sign of climatic change, it's the start of the chocolate season. Ah, yes, the chocolate season is upon us.

Chocolate season runs approximately eight months of the year from the first appearance of Halloween candy in late August through to the sale of Easter chocolate in April. In between Halloween and Easter, there is Christmas chocolate and Valentine's day chocolate; individually wrapped bits of temptation. 

Before the cartoonish (our pumpkin is carved in the likeness of Lightening McQueen) jack O' lantern is disposed of in the green bin, the leftover Halloween chocolate goes on sale and the Christmas chocolate arrives on the shelf of every Walmart, Costco, grocery store, dollar store and pharmacy. On boxing day, the Christmas chocolate goes on sale overlapping the arrival of Valentine's Day chocolate. After the romance of Valentine's Day is done, chic and cheap chocolate goes on sale with Easter chocolate. Finally, once the last chocolate bunny and eggs are sold at rock bottom prices, we are blessed with a four month reprieve from the chocolate bombardment.   

Damn you little Halloween chocolate bars, Christmas Santas, balls and bells, Valentine's day hearts and chocolate Easter bunnies. How I fool myself into thinking that I can eat just one chocolate per day and eat the 96 pieces over a three and a half month time span. Instead I consume you by the fistful, hoping that each time the cursed box/bag/net will finally be empty.

But this year is different you wretched chocolate. I ignored your summons in the store, I delayed buying you as long as possible, and in the end, I completely ignored you and bought licorice for the little trick or treaters instead.

Last year was the start of change and this year was easier; slowly but surely your grip on me is weakening.  Instead of an eight month season, it's morphing into four separate chocolate events; and perhaps in time,  chocolate will be just chocolate and no longer an event...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Weight watching in gain mode

Karen @ Waisting Time wrote how the numbers on the scale affects how she feels depending on the direction the number is going (going down feel great, going up feels fat). I was reading the comments from her post (Karen's warped theory of relativity) and could completely relate to Muchberry's comment, "I travel to the land without scales when I gain weight" because I too avoid the scale when I'm in gain mode.

But then I remembered that is not entirely true. I'm at the heaviest weight in my life and I witnessed the pounds piling on and the numbers on the scale going up; weigh in after weigh in.

Of course, I would have happily avoided the scale, but unfortunately when one is pregnant, one's doctor weighs you. I was nervous for my first appointment, I had not weighed myself in a year so I knew the number was going to be a shock. Shock it was, I gained 30 pounds in a year (after a year of restricting, I followed up with a year of overeating).

Considering how the hunger hit like a cement truck in the first trimester, I was pleasantly surprised that the weight gain in the second appointment a couple of months later was only two pounds. But after that, the scale indicator didn't stop moving to the right. I even managed a five pound gain in one week. The nurse was positive it was an error (that can't be right) and weighed me again (wow, that is not a mistake).

Not all the weight was a true gain. I was trying to finish some stuff before the baby arrived; complete another class in the magazine publishing certificate program, finish upholstering a pair of club chairs in a re-upholstery workshop plus we were implementing a new online application at work which meant 12 to 14 hour workdays and overtime on weekends. Apparently it is important to put your feet up as much as possible, I retained a boatload of fluids: the swelling in my legs came to my my knees, I was unable to sleep properly during the third trimester and the water in my arms induced carpal tunnel syndrome so I wore wrist guards all day and all night.

The weird thing was that with all that weight gain, my senses dulled to the perpetually increasing number. I was thankful when the gain was limited to one or two pounds and downright delighted on the single occasion that there was no weight gain. But it was impossible to comprehend what I was seeing on the scale, I dismissed it by telling myself that I'd lose it after I was finished having children.

Now here I am, two little boys later and 75 pounds heavier than what I weighed on my wedding day five years ago. In stark contrast to the time that I put on this weight, I'm acutely aware of every pound that I lose and have yet to lose.

I'm kicking myself for not getting help for this eating disorder before I got pregnant - well, sort of - the important point is that I did get help.

Did you gain your weight slowly over many years or did you gain your weight quickly?

Previous post: Dietary Assessment

Thursday, October 20, 2011

That's me the one with the zipper down

Damn it. I did it again. I've been walking around for two hours with my zipper down. Thankfully I put on black undies to go with my black pants this morning.

The funny thing is that this is not an isolated incident. I'm forgetting to zip up my pants all the time, usually an incident or two per week.

I'm unsure exactly when this new behaviour began, but it seems to have coincided with the pregnancy weight gain and the resulting Mommy pouch from two c-sections.

You see, since the expansion of my girth, I changed how I put on my pants. Prior to pregnancy, I would slip pants on, pull up pants, zip the zipper, and finally button the pants around the waist. Post pregnancy, I slip pants on, pull up pants, button up pants and then zip the zipper. The problem is that after 35 years of zipping first and buttoning second, it's easy to forget to zip after buttoning.

What I can't figure out is why I changed the zip/button order in the first place. I do know that this change was not a conscious decision, one day I just started buttoning first and zipping second. I suspect that this change in pant dressing procedure has something to do with my post pregnancy body shape.

Before pregnancy, my pants stayed up with the zipper zipped. Buttoning the button(s) of my pants was really a formality (and to make sure my pants stayed on when moving around and such). After pregnancy, my abdomen melted and pooled around my waist in the form of the Mommy pouch. Now, there is no way the pants will stay up without buttoning, so I need to use the buttons to hold the pants up over the bulky hips and waist area.

Ho hum. Does anyone have any suggestions for me to stop this perpetual embarrassment? Does anyone else have this problem? In any case, if you are in the Toronto area and see a woman in her late 30s walking around with her fly down, say hello, mostly likely it's me...

Previous post: Last night's chicken burger

Monday, October 17, 2011

Last night's chicken burger

Interesting dinner last night; certainly not the menu, but my eating behaviour.

I'm not the cook of my household. But my husband and father were working on a backyard project for most of the day, so I donned the chef's hat for Sunday's dinner. In the morning, I noticed three zucchinis and a large fennel in the refrigerator. I absolutely love roasted vegetables, so I put the produce on the counter for dinner (I easily forget stuff right now - Mommy brain is in full swing) to go with the main entree.

I'd like to tell you that I cooked something really fabulous worthy of Saveur magazine, but I didn't. I went the easy route: PC menu chicken burgers with a slice of havarti cheese, roasted zucchini and fennel washed down with a glass of milk (still tasting like 2%).

The vegetables could have stayed in the oven for a bit longer, but when the toddler needs to eat, we eat. My husband wasn't too jazzed about the fennel ("I'll look up how to do fennel properly"), but I enjoyed eating the big pile of roasted zucchini and fennel. So much so that I favoured the vegetables over the chicken burger. In fact, I didn't finish the chicken burger.

But I wonder; what if I told myself that I could only eat the roasted vegetables and two-thirds of a chicken burger for dinner. I bet that I'd eat the entire chicken burger, even if I was full.

Previous post: Learning to tolerate the bathroom scale

Friday, October 14, 2011

Learning to tolerate the bathroom scale

The bathroom scale and I didn’t have a problem until the day my coach began to weigh my teammates and I. She weighed us on a physician’s scale in the equipment room. Actually she measured us as well, but the number that mattered was the one on the scale. After a family trip to Florida, my weight dipped and the following week it jumped back up. At that point my coach discussed with me about going on a diet.

So there it began; a fear of the scale escalating to a history of scale avoidance.

I can easily avoid the scale, for months. When my therapist asked me to weigh myself, it took me three weeks to step on the vintage Borg scale to confirm that my weight was over its limit and another five months to find out my actual weight. I was so anxious about the number on the scale, I joined TOPS (a nonprofit weight loss group) to ensure that I weighed myself on a weekly basis. (I’m sure I’m not the only dieter that feels that accountability is necessary.)

That first weigh in on the cold Monday evening in March was a shock, but I was thankful that I was lighter than my final weigh in before I delivered my second baby. I hid my feelings of distress by joking about all the darn baby weight to lose. The TOPS member warmly smiled and replied that we’ve all been there and not to worry, I too will lose the baby weight.

I discussed the weekly weigh-in results with my therapist. She pointed out that your body can easily fluctuate a few pounds up or down. A quarter pound increase is not a reason to distress; a two pound gain can equate to a missed or late bowel movement. “Your body decides to dispose of weight or keep it and decides where to put it. What you want is an overall downward trend; don’t worry so much about the week-to-week results.”

In May, I decided to kick up the effort to actually lose weight. Interestingly, this coincided with returning to work following a year-long maternity leave. I admit it’s easier to see my weight, my number; I’m no longer shocked (sharing that number with everyone is another matter entirely) by seeing those three digits on the scale.

As the summer progressed, a curious thing happened. The need for accountability; to weigh in somewhere other than at my house that seemed so critical only months ago was no longer important. I decided to continue to weigh-in at TOPS until this week, when I weighed in at home for the first time with a borrowed Salter digital scale.

Today, I’m feeling better about the scale, it’s a tool showing a number; one method of measuring progress. But I know I can easily slip back into scale avoidance. I missed the October 3rd weigh-in at TOPS and ate a few rich meals over the Thanksgiving weekend. I was worried about the number. Have I gained weight? I was apprehensive about gaining weight and losing ground in my long journey.

In the end, I weighed myself and kept the results inperspective. Sure the number was loss. But I changed the weigh-in day (Wednesday instead of Monday), the time of day (after I wake up instead of 6 pm) and the attire I’m wearing (a pair of socks instead of well, an outfit).

A final thought from Yoni Freedhoff. I’m going to keep in mind the next time the scale freaks me out:

The thing is, scales are truly frustrating devices because they don't simply measure caloric intake vs. caloric expenditure. Scales also measure clothing, water retention, constipation, time of month, and time of day differences.

Here are two things you need to know.
Firstly, there are 3,500 calories in a pound, and while bodies are definitely not mathematical instruments whereby, if you do or don't eat 3,500 calories, you'll see a pound change on the scale, bodies do obey the laws of thermodynamics. Weight is mass, and mass is energy. If you step on a scale on a Wednesday and it's 3 pounds heavier than Tuesday, unless you consumed the caloric equivalent of at least 19 Big Macs more than you burned, the scale is weighing something other than true weight. You can't gain mass without putting in the energy.
Secondly, your weight doesn't matter.
What do I mean by that? To put it simply, what moves the number on the scale is not the act of standing on the scale, it's what you're doing and choosing during the times you're not standing on the scale. It's your lifestyle and your choices that change your weight. You need to determine how you're doing by evaluating what and how you're actually doing by asking yourself questions such as: What have your dietary choices been like? How's your fitness? Are you being thoughtful? Are you organized and consistent? 

Here are the links to his blog postings on scale addiction and gravitophobia (irrational fear of the bathroom scale). Along with his blog at, Yoni also has a blog called Weighty Matters.

Monday, October 3, 2011

You are drinking skim milk

"This is 2% milk, not skim milk." I tell my husband.

"No, it's skim milk. I bought 2% for the kids and skim for us." He replies.

"Did you buy the skim milk that tastes like 2%? You know I can't drink that stuff. It's disgusting." 

"I know you won't drink that milk, it's skim milk you are drinking."

I swirl the milk around in my glass, checking to see if the fat from the milk sticks to the sides. I do the same with my son's glass to compare.

"Are you sure you didn't put a bag of the boy's milk in our jug?" I ask.

"Yes, I'm sure. That is skim milk."

I've been drinking skim milk my entire life. (Yes, my doctor recommended skim milk for babies back in the seventies.) I've always found it to be refreshing and cold. Any time I drink milk other than skim milk it never seems as cold and the texture is too creamy and too much fat. Same for the skim milk that tastes like 2%, I just can drink it. I practically choke on the butterfat.

Every glass of milk that I drank on the weekend tasted like 2% milk. It took quite the effort to down a glass. All I could taste was the butterfat. And hubby was right, it's skim milk, not 2%. I bought more milk on Sunday, placed the skim milk in the correct pitcher, poured a glass from said container, drank from the glass and it still tastes like 2%.

Are my taste buds changing? Am I beginning to crave different foods? I've decreased the chocolate and baked good eating and recently increased the fruits and vegetables consumption. In the grocery store, I'm gravitating towards the greens section contemplating which box of salad to buy: baby spinach or spring mix? We hosted a casual pizza dinner on Saturday and I made a salad to accompany the pizza (usually I wouldn't bother). For lunch Sunday, I made myself a grilled cheese sandwich, along with a big salad and a plateful of beefsteak tomato slices.

I'm hoping this is some sort of a positive sign that I am making real and lasting changes to my eating habits. Like any sane person, I turn to the internet for a possible explanation. I googled "has the butterfat content for skim milk changed recently?" Nothing came up; I guess there wasn't some sort of shift in the dairy industry last week. After decades of struggling with food, it seems hard to believe that change (temporary or permanent) is possible.

I've only reached this state of diet nirvana once before. After a long run of being consistently on plan with Weight Watchers, I couldn't stand the taste of ice cream; all I could taste was the fat from the cream. Instead of Dairy Queen, I preferred TCBY instead. (Unfortunately, with the appropriate determination, I managed to rejuvenate my taste for ice cream.)

Is it possible that my taste buds are changing? Is it possible that my thinking is changing? Is it possible that I am starting to think like a thin person?