Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Choosing food that I like over food that I love

On Friday, I decided to eat food that I like over food that I love. 

The first Friday of every month I attend a team meeting. The meeting is part update and part team-building session. In this meeting, we celebrate team members' birthdays for the upcoming month. Of course, birthdays are celebrated with cake; or like this month, Prairie Girl cupcakes.

I've been struggling with the baked good aspect of this meeting. To have or not to have. I don't really want to have, but I continue to accept the slice of cake/cookie or cupcake. So far the only sure fire way of avoiding these fun, empty calories is by taking a vacation day. But, that isn't practical solution and I'm running out of vacation days.

Last week I discussed this monthly dilemma with my therapist. Again, we talked about the idea of eating foods that I like rather than foods that I love. She acknowledged that many patients have a hard time with the idea of choosing food that they like over food that they love. After all, if you decide to eat something, you want it to be worth it!

For example, I love the taste of baked goods; cake and cupcakes but I like the taste of my typical afternoon snack - fruit-pureed yogurt topped with bran buds. From our discussion of love vs. like came the solution to the birthday cake dilemma: take my afternoon snack to the meeting.

So simple, but it worked. I brought my yogurt to the meeting and ate it mindfully as my colleagues ate their cupcakes. I didn't feel like I was missing out by choosing the yogurt I like to eat over my love of baked goods.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Social Eating Challenge: Family Dinner

Christmas is coming and so are a slew of social outings accompanied by a mountain of food. Appetizers in particular are my downfall, but I certainly don't discount the lure of Christmas baking, mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing.

Last Sunday we went to my parent's house for a family dinner, the first social eating challenge of the holiday season. The four bears bounced around in the basement while the adults chatted in the kitchen with the appetizers: roasted kale, goat cheese with a splash of olive oil and shrimp.

My Mom loves serving appetizers and experimenting with new recipes. I love appetizers, but I find it is so easy to overeat on these bite-sized calorie-bombs that kills my appetite before dinner actually starts.

Going in, I knew I needed a plan. A plan specific to the occasion. I knew if I could get through appetizers I would be OK. So, I decided to bring my own appetizer, a simple salad.

The salad worked well; Mom wasn't offended that I brought a salad for an appetizer and I wasn't interested in the goat cheese and crackers. As a result, I enjoyed the dinner because I wasn't already full.

This Saturday we are going to an open house at a friend's house out in the country. The strategy for this occasion is to:

  • eat dinner before the evening open house
  • if I want to eat, focus on eating fruit and vegetables from the food table
  • choose to eat up to two "hot" appetizers, eat mindfully, savor the taste
  • choose to eat up to two baked goods, eat mindfully, savor the taste
  • stay out of arms' reach from the food table
  • visualize the evening; practice the above strategies

Despite my best efforts, the evening may not go as planned. If I eat more, well, I've eaten more. There is a lot of food around this time of year, so if I maintain a little longer, well, that is just how the cookie crumbles this time of year.

Please share with me your social eating strategies. What are your goals for December? Lose weight, maintain  or to be a mindful eater?

Coming Soon: a post about processed food. What are your thoughts on processed food? Tell me what you think on facebook.

Monday, December 3, 2012

It's OK that food doesn't always taste good

Sometimes food just doesn't taste good: dry roast beef; previously frozen salmon, under cooked potatoes, overcooked asparagus, stale bread. A cooked meal doesn't turn out or a new choice at a restaurant doesn't taste as good as imagined.

What do you do when food doesn't taste good?

I can tell you what I do when food didn't taste good. I eat more food; food guaranteed to taste good. Food such as grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken nuggets, french fries, ice cream, cookies etc. Basically, in order to be satisfied, my taste buds must also be satisfied.

This wasn't odd. I thought it was perfectly reasonable to think that food must taste good. Food is always described in reference to its taste. Food manufacturers wouldn't sell their "product" if their marketing campaign said that "buy this lasagna, it tastes...OK."

Before eating, there is a sense that a certain meal isn't going to cut it. A tell-tale sign of an upcoming disappointing meal is that it is made up of food that I don't like such as scalloped potatoes or pork chops.

On those occasions  I consume the meh meal trying to ignore the feeling that the food is doing absolutely nothing for me. Anxiety begins to rise from the lack of taste and triggers hunger. After dinner, I wait for the hunger to subside, but it doesn't as I continue to obsess over the lack of taste satisfaction.

Like my cat in the morning, impatiently waiting for breakfast, I pace, swiftly moving between the fridge and pantry hunting for my quarry. The one food that will satisfy the need; once found, I devour the food. Satisfaction, finally. The discomfort from the anxiety eases.

Of course, my therapist discovered this when I explained why I was unable to stick to the pre-planned menu. Then she told me something that I had not previously considered. She said:

Food isn't always going to taste good.

That is OK.
Huh? Food isn't always going to taste great and that's OK? Unlike the sentiment of virtually every food commercial, great tasting food isn't owed to me?

Wow. I had never thought of food that way before. I used food to pander to my taste buds.

That is when I realized that the purpose of food is meant to provide nutrition, rather than to satisfy the needs of my taste buds. So when food doesn't taste good, that isn't a reason to eat more food. This must be what Geneen Roth refers to eating what your mind wants rather than what your body wants.

For years, even decades, my food choices were based on satisfying this insatiable need for taste. Of course, I craved foods that are the easiest to covet: sugar, salt, and grease. Dieting or not, I battled the need for taste against the need to stay thin on a daily basis. With time, the need for taste increased and my ability to lose weight decreased.

With awareness and practice, I'm no longer obsessed with the taste of food. The unexpected result of letting go of the need for taste (or at least the lowest common denominator of taste that I craved) is that I changed the food that I want to eat to foods that also happen to be good for my body.

Coming Soon: Let me know on facebook what you think of processed food, I'm working on a new post and I'd love to hear your thoughts. What do you consider to be processed food? Can processed food healthy? To eat or not eat, let me know which side of the processed food fence you are on!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Melted Bran Buds - yum!

I should seriously consider drinking coffee. How easy coffee drinkers have it. My friend smiles when she tells me that she heads to the ladies room 30 minutes after drinking her morning java. Me? Achieving regularity is no simple task. It's a crap shoot. And it certainly is an effort. Regularity is important; after all, if you ain't pooin' the scale ain't movin'.

I thought I had found the magic formula for regularity; eating quinoa early in the week to ensure an empty digestive system for the Wednesday morning weigh-in. However, as time went on, a few problems arose from using this strategy. The main issue is that quinoa was not always in the cupboard (or on the dinner menu) and in the end, it usually wasn't enough.

But then I saw the latest commercial for Bran Buds. The dude in the commercial suggested adding Bran Buds into all your foods. That's when I realized that I could start adding Bran Buds to my morning oatmeal. By the time I eat my oatmeal on the Go Train an hour later, the softened Bran Buds adds a surprisingly pleasant flavour to my morning meal. In the afternoon, I add another dose of Bran Buds to my afternoon yogurt snack.

Bran Buds sure gets the old bowels moving. But still, it is not always enough! So after much consideration and observation; I've figured out that this is what I need to do:

  • Eat quinoa as much as possible rather than rice (mmm quinoa);
  • Drink lots of water and/or peppermint tea;
  • Eat plenty of vegetables;
  • Eat grapes and blueberries over apples and bananas;
  • Add Bran Buds to oatmeal and yogurt; and
  • Avoid eating processed food.
So, there you have it; my new strategy for regularity, because eating quinoa on Monday and Tuesday just wasn't enough...

Do you add Bran Buds to any of your food?  


Monday, November 19, 2012

Plateau - still figuring out social eating

So, I'm climbing my way out of a plateau that has persisted since mid-July. Since then, my weight has basically gone up and down with a net loss of nothing. I'm not mystified or wondering why I continue to wallow in this maintain state. I know why this is happening; the problem is social eating. I haven't figured out how to handle eating at social occasions in a way that works for me.

Case in point; last Friday there was a pot luck breakfast at work. I don't like potluck meals - it's wasteful - I eat more than I would at a normal meal (I'm sure I'm not the only one) and so much of the food ends up in the trash bin. I attempt to temper (instead of adding to) the potluck carb-fest, by bringing a healthier (but less popular) options such as fruit or sandwiches. However, on this particular occasion  I was lured in by the variety of  tastes from donuts, cheese, muffins, bread pudding, quiche, samosas to name a few. I ate way too much food; to the point of discomfort and I didn't eat again until 2 pm.

Fortunately, potluck meals don't happen on a daily basis; the last one I attended was last Christmas. Then again, there is always some event to challenge weight loss progression: dinner parties, birthday parties, work conferences, dinner/lunch out, girls' cross-border shopping day, day out at the beach/park/conservation area etc. I'm not a particularly busy social butterfly nor do I have a large family; but there always seems to be some event to halt my effort.

I can handle the bulk of my eating for the week. I will lose weight if there are no special events during the week. But that isn't realistic; that isn't life. I want to learn to handle social eating in a better way, which is especially important since Christmas is only five weeks away. So, I'm heading back to therapy with the hope that my struggle with social eating will no longer be a struggle.

How are you planning on handling social eating this upcoming holiday season? Do you have any eating strategies for potluck meals or dinner parties?

Friday, November 9, 2012

A blog makeover story

 My blog was in desperate need of a makeover. I like design and designing things; I went to school for landscape architecture. I enjoy design projects at home and making my own announcement post cards and holiday cards and artwork. But for the life of me, I am unable to translate this design ability to the web. So, last Thusday, ask I skipped last Thursday's swim practice (I wasn't feeling well), I came across Tiana's website, the Blog Decorator.

Tiana specializes in premade blog templates that can be installed as is or you can buy additional customizations. I liked the idea of a customizable premade template since it provided a good visual and working starting point. Initially, I was drawn to the Dianna template, but the flower graphic didn't really match the subject of my blog. Tiana had many great ideas to customize the graphic for my blog, but she was also completely open to own ideas such as:

  • Replacing the leaves of the flowers with numbers; 
  • Changing the flower to an explosion of numbers of a scale (or numbers floating on top of fountain of water) - yes, this idea was a little out there. 
In the end I went with the Lauren template with a stylized graph image: wavy, intersecting lines starting high on the left and gradually decreasing and stabilizing to the right (see below - my drawing for Tiana. It's always fun to see an initial concept and the final design) with a new colour palette.
Next, Tiana sent me to Design Seeds to pick out a colour template. This was daunting at first, as I was drawn to every third colour palette or so. Eventually, I managed to get down to the final four colour templates: colour crop, salad hues, vegetable hues, and artichoke hues. From there, Tiana pulled together a colour palette from those final four palettes.

As she worked on the design, I finalized changes to my blog name, tag line and navigation menu; you know, shorten and sharpen and edit.

I shortened my blog name to "Thinking like a thin person" from "Can I learn to be a thin person" because I believe that I do think like a thin person. I decided on a shorter tag line "Changing how I think about food, dieting and weight loss" and it better describes the heart of my blog; because I have changed how I think about all those things.

I was amazed by how quickly Tiana works; once we figured out the customizations and the colour palette, she completed the design work and installed the template on blogger in a work day. A few more hours and she designed matching headers for my twitter, facebook and google plus pages.

So there you have it; the story of my blog makeover. If your blogger profile is in need of a new look, I highly recommend Tiana the Blog Decorator!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Kara you look great!

I was at a friend's 40th birthday party on Saturday night. Truth be told, I was apprehensive about going to the party in the first place. Of course I wanted to celebrate my friend's birthday milestone, but I also knew that three people from high school were also going to be there. People I haven't seen since graduation 22 years ago.

Twenty two years ago when I was a whole lot smaller.

I had a great time. I chatted with a group of other mothers, we swapped kid, house, work and commuting stories. I nibbled at the vegetable tray. I caught up with one of the girls from high school; towards the end of the night I talked to the other girl.

"Kara you look great!"

Immediately I give her a funny look; my eyes narrow and I tilt my head. I haven't seen this woman in 22 years, I'm half a person heavier than I was in high school and the first thing she tells me is that I look good?

"So Kara, when are you due?"

My lips tighten. I feel slightly embarrassed. I'm totally annoyed.

I tell her that I'm not pregnant.

She had the good sense to look mortified. She noticed that I wasn't drinking alcohol so she thought that I was pregnant. I'm sure my larger size also helped her to come to this conclusion.

"No May, I just don't drink any more." For some reason, I felt compelled to add: "My weight was fine until I had kids." (This statement was mostly true; my weight fluctuated greatly before pregnancy, but my weight exploded during the two pregnancies. Right now, I'm approximately 30 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight.)

"Oh, so when did you have kids?"

I give her a strangled look. It's not lost on me the fact that she focused on how recently I was pregnant rather than asking about my actual children (hey - how many kids do you have? How old are they?)

"You're killing me May. Really, just killing me. They are two and four years old."

I have to admit the more she put her foot in her mouth the funnier the situation seemed to get. We were laughing at the end of our exchange over our mutual embarrassment.

Good times, good times.

So what is the moral of the story? If you see someone for the first time in twenty years and there is a possibility that you may look pregnant, just have a glass of wine to eliminate confusion.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Instead of gluten-free, why not go for less gluten?

 My friend Tania sent me a link today to an article in the Globe and Mail. The writer decided to eat a gluten-free diet for a week. This article brought to mind another friend who adopted a gluten-free diet last year. She attributed the absence of gluten for taking off five pounds from her core area including a slight pot belly (her words, not mine; if she had a pot belly, it certainly wasn't noticeable to me).

Both thewriter in the article and my friend completely gave up gluten. However, this post isn't really about offering an opinion about the merits of a gluten-free diet (for those of us who do not have an allergy or an intolerance to wheat). This is a post about the merits of completely eliminating an entire food or food group.

Why is it necessary to be so extreme as to completely eliminate certain foods or food groups?

Before therapy, giving up certain foods or food groups didn't seem like an odd thing to do. It was just one of those things that we had to do to shed weight. But now, I see it as a sure-fire way to fail, especially when the eliminated food is wheat and so many foods are made with that grain. 

What is wrong with moderation? Why as dieters do we find it necessary to change our eating habits overnight? Why can't you go from eating gluten one day to perhaps eating less gluten the following week or month?

In order to achieve permanent weight loss, we need to make changes that can be maintained permanently. There is no way I will completely give up gluten. However, what I can do is switch to a eating a piece of gluten-free rye bread at lunch.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

You need to change how you think about dieting, food and eating

A comment from Munchberry, on the post It takes time a practice to change.
I don't think I am there yet Kara. I want to be. I read your very helpful hints and some I have been able to fold into my life, but.. I think I am not trying hard enough.
How do you keep from slipping into your old ways?
I keep from slipping into my old ways because I changed everything.
The good thing with an extensive history of dieting, I have a good working knowledge of foods to eat and proper serving sizes. As a former athlete, I like to exercise, and I don't let my chunky thighs and FUPA stop me from pulling on a swim suit in public.
But, if you are a serial dieter, you may be coming around to the idea that this food, this eating, this weight thing is not just about diet and exercise. A huge chunk of the puzzle is to work with, rather than against your psychology. Yes, food choices and exercise is important, but you also need to change how you think about dieting, food and eating:
  1. I don't diet. I will overeat if I feel like I am on a diet. That means no calorie or point counting, no food journalling, no foods are excluded and no restrictions on the amount of food that I eat.
  2. I have many food routines, such as weekday breakfast lunches and snacks. I switch up breakfasts on the weekend and I always have a big salad at lunch no matter what day of the week it is.
  3. Diets tell you what you can and can't eat. Now I'm the one who decides. This power (and lots of CBT) allows me to choose to eat healthy foods over processed food.
  4. I spend time organizing and preparing food to make it as convenient as possible. Convenient food that is bought is not good enough for my body.  
  5. I've come to accept that my journey will progress slowly, but progress is progress. 
  1. I changed the foods that I crave; I want fresh, nutritious food that is simply prepared. I no longer crave processed snack foods (snacking was always my downfall) and ready-made frozen food. This new craving for healthy foods is so strong that I prefer my husband's home-cooked meals to food prepared in restaurants.
  2. If I want to eat cookies, chocolate and ice cream, I can eat cookies, chocolate and ice cream. By saying that I can eat those foods that if I really want it, I no longer crave these foods in such an intense, obsessive way.
  3. Calorie dense food processed does not necessarily mean that it will satisfy hunger.
  4. I no longer see food as good food or bad food; it's just food. Some you want to eat more of, some you eat occassionaly. Try referring to food neutrally - we foist alot of judgment in every forkful of food we eat.
  1. I don't restrict the amount of food I eat. If I restrict my serving of potato wedges to eight pieces, immediately I'll want ten. Therefore, I start of with eight pieces, but mentally allow myself to eat more if necessary. This keeps the dieting anxiety to a minimum.
  2. I no longer feel the need to be a perfect eater. Dieting spawns this weird all-or-nothing mentality that just sets us up for failure. I strive to eat healthy and nutritious most of the time.
In any case, this is where my journey has brought me. I wanted permanent change, so I needed to make changes that I could carry on permanently. 

Munchberry, I know you are not quite ready to tackle the dieting/food/eating psychology, but when you are, I think you will find peace at the end of the road.

Good grief, I gotta go to bed!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It takes time and practice to change

I have a unique perspective when it comes to intuitive eating. I believe that the way I think about food and eating, how I can lose weight without a diet is the goal of intuitive eating.

However, I have a unique perspective as I didn't get here by following the intuitive eating rules, I got here by working with a cognitive behaviour therapist and slowly changed my eating behaviour.

In addition, I belonged to an intuitive eating support group, so I understand the challenges of following the intuitive eating rules.With that perspective, I can offer some useful insight into an intuitive eating journey.

I was interested in intuitive eating because I pictured a normal eating life; eating food like a normal person, in normal amounts without counting points/calories. We are all born to eat intuitively, but in some of us, that intuitive ability is lost as we mature. So when you think about it, intuitive eating is about resetting our eating behaviour- overturning a deeply ingrained learned behaviour for a behaviour that is based on instinct.

It takes time and practice
If you are moving towards changing your eating behaviour - it takes practice and it takes time to change. Expect to make mistakes; even welcome mistakes, because you can learn from your mistakes. In my own journey, mistakes revealed my true eating triggers. If you expect to be perfect from the start, you are setting yourself up to fail by giving up.

How much time? I can only go by my experience: I saw my therapist for a year; while I didn't count the number of sessions, I believe I had twenty sessions. With one-on-one counselling, it took a year to experience significant changes in my behaviour. The interesting thing is that a year after therapy ended, my eating behaviour continues to change - as I am still practicing.

The bottom line - change doesn't happen overnight, but with patience, time and practice, you can permanently change how you think about food and eating, whether you are an intuitive eater or someone who just wants a little peace when it comes to food.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

It's been eight long days

Ok, I want to admit to you something slightly controversial. I want to tell you about this because I'm experiencing withdrawal symptoms this week.

Actually, it is a little bit longer than a week; eight days in fact. Eight long days since McDonald's ended its $1 drink sale.

Yes, I love diet coke. And there is nothing better than a big McDonald's diet coke. My friend Tania told me that Coca-cola technicians see to it that the McDonald's pop fountains have the perfect syrup to carbonated water ratio. I don't know if that is true or not, but no matter where you go, I rarely get a stale diet coke at McDonald's; a little slice of heaven in a cup.

I know that some people say diet coke is bad for you, but I just don't buy it. Personally, I think the caffeine is more worrisome than the aspartame. I don't drink coffee, so I'm not too worried about my caffeine consumption. I'm not saying that I won't change my mind in the future, but for now, I put diet coke in the same bucket as all other food choices: everything in moderation.

For the most part, I have one diet coke per day during the week, and two to three on the weekend. Sometimes more and sometime less. Except of course, when the McDonald's has its annual summer drink sale. So, I loved walking to the McDonald's at Yonge and Richmond during my afternoon break and picking up a large diet coke. MMMMmmmm.

But now it is over.

And I'm a bit on edge.

I even checked out 7eleven to see the price of a big gulp.

But I know it won't be the same.

I know, I'll get over it.

Just like when season 2 of Game of Thrones ended.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Too much buoyancy is not a good thing

It's 11:09 PM. Can I write a post and publish it by 11:30?

"I always though that my extra weight added to my buoyancy in the water and you would think that helps with swimming. At least I think so."

Izzy my friend, your comment from the Leisel Jones post made me laugh. Why? Because  swimming with too much buoyancy is not a good thing.

I've been swimming for so long that I don't remember what it is like to not have the ability to float. Swimmers need the flexibility to swim at any depth, on the surface, just under the surface or a few feet below. For most swimmers, this is easily achieved by regulating the amount of air in your lungs. Want to go to the bottom of the pool without any effort? Just blow all the air out of your lungs and you'll drop to the bottom. Rapidly.

I joined the local masters swim club in 2011 and I'm loving it. I'm a little self-conscious in a swim suit with my overweight physique - but I hold my head high and work as hard as I can. But there is one challenging issue that has come up since I started swimming again and it has to do with all the extra weight I'm currently carrying.

Holy moly, it is difficult to swim underwater. When our coach tells us to swim 25 m underwater, I find that I unintentionally pop to the surface at the 12-15 m mark. With practice, I've figured out that in order to swim underwater for the full length I must angle my body towards the bottom of the pool.

Another milestone to look forward too - the time when I will have full control over my ability to swim at any depth.

It's 11:30, time to go to bed! With editing, 11:36... Not bad...

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A quick post about writing

I was hoping to get a few blog posts published before now. I actually have two posts on the go right now, but I just haven't had the time to finish them. Work has been busy. RecentlyI worked late a few nights in a row, plus my oldest bear is starting school (OMG) so I've been busy getting ready for that.

And life is going to get busier as I signed up to swim three nights of week instead of one. Two of the workouts are 1.5 hours and the other workout is an hour, so I'm swimming four hours a week instead of one. The workouts are late as well. Two workouts end at 10:30 and the other workout at 10:00. I'm worried about getting enough sleep to get up in the morning.

However, I'm mostly worried about figuring out when I'm going to write. I'm a slow writer. I write, rewrite and rewrite more. Usually the issue is that I have trouble narrowing down what I want to say. I also write best in the morning, but unfortunately the only time I can write is in the evening after the little bears are in bed. Swimming eliminates writing time on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday and I'm going to be tired on Tuesday and Friday, the non-swimming days.

My goal is to post once a week. I have some ideas on how I'm going to meet this goal, but I'd love to hear your ideas. What is your writing process? How long do you spend writing your posts? Do you have any tips on how to post more frequently?


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

So you want to become an intuitive eater...

Last year, I wrote an extensive intuitive eating review and why it didn't work for me. Which is odd because I attended a weekly intuitive eating support group for six months.

As I was writing the review, I realized that despite the weekly meetings, I didn't understand the inutitive eating rules. Interestingly, I also realized that cognitive behaviour therapy had unknowingly lead me to become an intuitive eater. I eat when I am hungry, I eat what my body wants (at least I do most of the time) and I've learned that I can lose weight without dieting (albeit slowly).

Given my history with intuitive eating, I take an interest in intuitive eating blog posts. Jen at Perfect in our Imperfections is working towards becoming an intuitive eater. In her latest post Perfect in our Imperfections: Intuitive eating so far Jen noted that it is suprisingly difficult (I agree!) and put a call out for any useful strategies.

So, if you are budding intuitive eater, I have a few ideas to help get you started:

1. Eat what your body wants 
Confused by eat what your body wants? Yes, I was too. I waited for my body to tell me what to eat for lunch, but my body never really told me anything. I didn't understand that 1) my body wants to eat healthy foods and 2) my mind also has a say in the matter.

Want to know if you eat what your body wants or what your mind wants? There is an easy way to find out. What kind of food do you crave? If you crave processed, sugar or fat-filled food such as Oreos and french fries,  you eat what your mind wants you to eat.  If you crave fresh, healthy foods simply prepared such as salad and quinoa, you eat what your body wants.

Instead of eat what your body wants, think of it as learning to crave healthy food.

How does one learn to crave healthy foods? You learn by eating healthy foods most of the time. Yes, you fake it until you make it. Eat healthy, quality whole foods, prepared at home and you will start to crave healthy foods and eat what your body wants.

Personally, I noticed that I started to turn my tastebuds when I switched my lunch from a sandwich to a salad. Now I feel sad if I don't have my salad that I prepare at home and eat at lunch hour. 

2. Eat when you are hungry
A history of dieting will make it difficult to know when you are hungry, especially since anxiety induced from dieting will send out false hunger as a coping mechanism. So a good way to figure out your hunger scale is to eat every three hours. My therapist directed me do this and I noticed (even today), that if I push it past the three hour mark to the four hour mark, this triggers overeating.

Think about hunger in relative terms: if you eat a complete balanced meal and you are hungry again in an hour, chances are you aren't really hungry. That hunger could be triggered by anxiety (or some other reason). Distract yourself and I am confident that you will find that the hunger will disapate.

If you haven't eaten in three hours, and your stomach is rumbling, eat, your body wants you to eat. If you are unsure of when to stop eating, just use your common sense. A balanced, healthy meal should fill you up. If after that meal you don't feel satisfied, eat a piece of fruit for dessert.

So remember to fake it 'til you make it. Eat healthy foods and you will learn to eat what your body wants. Eat every three hours to straighten out your hunger signal. Keep in mind that your thoughts can either help or hinder your effort. In part II, I'll tell you what I mean.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Working on a post for tomorrow; until then...

Of course, being the easily distracted kind of gal that I am, I decided to open a Google+ account (or is it profile?) tonight, but I don't know how to find my fellow bloggers. I'm Kara Thinksthinblogger.

So, if you have a Google+ profile, let me know how I can find you and I'll add you to my circle/follow you and whatever else we can do on this social media platform.

It would be really cool to chat about stuff, food, eating, blogging and anything else that comes up.

Speaking of social media, I'm also on facebook and twitter; if I'm not already following you, please let me know how I can find your page. Again, it would be great to interact!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Why are olympic athletes chubby?

I copied the post title from Google Analytics mere moments ago. Someone found my blog searching google for the answer as to why olympic athletes are chubby. I'm guessing my blog came up due to last week's post on the Australian swimmer Liesel Jones.

It's sad commentary really, that people think that Olympic athletes are chubby. It seems that anyone on TV with any amount of visible body fat is labelled as chubby or fat. Even Olympic althletes with muscles are targets.

Is this what happens when a model thin body shape is favored, praised, overvalued and seen in the media above all other body shapes? Thin is in for the movies, in TV programming, in the magazines and on the internet. Has the lack of body shape diversity completely eroded our tolerance for other body types in the media? Is this why Olympic athletes with athletic bodies built for their sport are labelled as chubby?

Athletes train for a lifetime for their Olympic moments and to become the best in their sport. Physical training transforms your body, makes it strong, makes it muscular. Different people will develop muscles and body tone in different ways depending on their sport, genetics and eating habits.

Even though muscles burn more calories and athletes have different nutritional needs than the rest of us, I think it is an unrealistic standard to expect anyone (athletes included) to eat perfectly all the time; the right foods in the exact amount.

So if you are wondering why Olympic athletes are chubby, my response to you is to ask yourself 1) what does it matter if an athlete is chubby or not and 2) what makes you think that Olympic athletes are chubby in the first place? 

Monday, July 30, 2012

A comment about Leisel Jones, Olympic athlete & media target

I hopped on the internet to check out the news coming from the London 2012 Olympics and I was delighted to read this follow-up story to the Leisel Jones "is she too fat to be in the Olympics" who-ha debate. I literally felt sick when I read that the Australian media began focusing on Leisel Jones body weight, including a poll to question whether or not if she is fit or not to swim.

For those of you who aren't watching the Olympics, Leisel Jones is a breaststroke specialist on the Australian Olympic Swim team. She has won eight Olympic medals and has set world records.

How demented are our expectations of body type that the media calls this high-performance Olympic athlete fat? In the end, it doesn't matter what her body looks like or how much she weighs, what matters is how fast she pull that body through the water and to the wall. Leisel's hard work, dedication, years of training, experience and let's not forget the fact that like everyone else (mostly everyone), she raced to earn her spot at the London 2012 Olympics by qualifying in a race.

Leisel is not fat and frankly, I don't even know why people call her chubby.This three-time Olympic gold medalist, is an elite athlete who is competing in her fourth Olympics. It really doesn't matter if she does or does not fit the media's ideal image of what an athlete should look like. The only thing that matters is how fast she can swim 100m.

Tonight Leisel Jones swam her 100m breastroke in 1:06.95 and a fifth place finish. One hundred meters in one minute and six seconds and fifth in the world. How many people in the world can do that?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

An update after a year of no dieting

Hubby, little bears and I are now home from our summer jaunt to cottage country. It was a fun break: swimming with the kids, fishing, sandcastles,big family dinners, smores and scones from Don's Bakery in Bala; reading a book, playing euchre in the evening. Good times, good times.

I've been blogging about the weight loss phase of my journey for more than a year now. And I'm happy with the fact that I have lost 35 pounds without any diet, especially my former diet of choice Weight Watchers. I eat what I want, no matter the calorie count or fat content.

I crave healthier foods now, so it's easier to make healthy choices. And if I happen to have a craving for let's say cookies, chocolate or ice cream, sometimes I indulge, sometimes I don't. I don't feel guilty, I feel normal.

A 35 pound loss has meant smaller clothes, no more back aches in the morning and no more chafing.  Clothes feel much better, I think I look better, much less fluffy. However, wearing a swimsuit all week at the cottage was a reminder of how much farther I have to go. With a loss rate of 35 pounds a year, that means a couple of more years.

Two more years, yes that's slow, really slow. But, this is how it has to be for me.

Anyow, I'm falling asleep, so I better go to bed.

Way off topic, but are you as excited as I am for the start of the Olympics??

Ok, 'Im totally nodding off, so I better go.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

My freakin' zipper is down again

A flash of red catches my eye as I ease into the driver's seat of my car.

Damn it. My freakin' zipper is down again.

I just dropped off the kids at daycare so thankfully my little bears didn't hear my curse.

This is the first time in months that I've left the house with my zipper down. I can't say that my zipper has been zipped for all these months, as I recall a few instances of flashing hubby and the bears while walking around the house.

Come to think of it, the last time this happened during a December 19th playdate in Hamilton. My friend Tracey pointed out my downed fly after emerging from the bathroom with the baby bear.

Apparently I risk public embarassment whenever my toddler decides to follow me into the facilities or wander into the bedroom as I pull on my pants.

As he did this morning.

Note to self: be extra vigilent to zip your zipper when the baby bear is in the same room while pulling up pants/capris/shorts.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The best 830 calories I ever ate

Who knew eating a McChicken combo could trigger a game-changing revelation.

It happened on an overcast September afternoon when I ditched my leafy lunch for 830 calories, 44 grams of fat and 1,090 mg of sodium, also known as a McChicken combo. After eating all those calories and grams of fat, I noticed that I was still hungry. At the same time, I realized eating my brown bag lunch consisting of a salad, toast and chicken, always satisfied my hunger.

At the time I didn't know that this relevation was the start of a fundamental change in how I thought about food.

In that moment, food quality became more important than the taste of food. Instead of craving junk food, I wanted to eat better food, nutritious foods. Because I realized that the nutritious food would satisfy my hunger, and food that was manufactured in a factory would not.

I've always thought that Geneen Roth's "eat what your body wants" was the most difficult intuitive eating to understand and follow. Now, I understand and know the freedom from the relentess food thoughts when your brain prefers to the healthy foods that your body wants to eat:
  • I have completely lost interest in eating highly processed food. It's weird, I see it everywhere now; its not just fast food, it's in restaurants, coffee shops, health food restaurants, grocery stores, convenience store, gas stations. I admit, I still like the taste of many processed foods, but I understand that if I eat processed food, it will not necessarily satify my hunger, or provide my body with the nutrients I need. I also realize that there is a fair possibility that I will overeat processed food.
  • I prefer to eat food prepared and cooked at home. The main reason is that there are so few food options now that I've completely lost interest in eating highly processed food.
  • I save money since I bring all the food that I'm going eat during the workday (breakfast, lunch, snacks).
  • I'm no longer waiting for the next break from eating "healthy" food, because I don't want to fill my body with empty calories. I don't want to eat junk, I want to eat foods that my body needs and wants. 
For full disclosure, if need be, I'll eat processed food, I haven't eliminated processed foods completely from my diet. I buy mayonaise rather than make my own and occassionaly we'll pick up a roasted chicken at the grocery store for dinner because its convenient.

However, I'm not concerned with eating perfectly all of the time, but I do want to make healthy choices most of the time. And it is a whole lot easier to making those healthier choices when you are no longer interested in eating processed food.

How about you, have you had any food revelations in your journey?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Do I still eat like a four year old kid?

"Mommy, I only want to eat cookies, chocolate and ice cream." Little bears hands are on his hips and his face is scrunched up in frown.

Believe me kid, I know how you feel. Your Mommy would love to eat cookies, chocolate and ice cream all day too.

Of course, I've heard little bear's sentiments before, but this time, a new thought popped into my head. Do I see food in the same way as my four year old son? Did I grow up in every way except when it comes to food and eating? All about taste and no substance? Seeking satisfying taste and nothing else with every bite?

Little bear and I seem to share a worrisome trait: we are both overly concerned with satisfying our taste buds. I can also tell that whenever he is told he can't eat, lets say a bowl of ice cream for breakfast, that he is frustrated and feels like he is missing out. Just as I did when I was a little girl. And from my own experience, I know that years of frustration will build into a full blown food anxiety.

To little bear I replied: "I know cookies, chocolate and ice cream taste good, but we only eat them once in a while. Most of the time we have to eat food that makes us strong." Knowing what I know now, when little bear is pining for junk food, I use words that I believe would have helped my four-year old self when I wanted to eat cookies, chocolate and ice cream instead of a regular meal.

But, when I think about it, there is a distinct difference between little bear and I when it comes to eating. When Little bear eats food that doesn't taste great, he won't finish his serving. In contrast, before therapy, when I ate food that didn't taste good enough, I'd eat the lackluster meal and then search and eat something else to eat in order to satisfy my insatiable need for taste.

With two kids of my own now, I understand the challenges that parents face at snack and meal times. First, parents need to get their kids to eat, and second need to get their kids to eat food their little bodies need to grow. But kids don't always want to eat, and they certainly don't always want to eat the nutritious food on their plate. So I understand why I heard "NO" so frequently as I child. Just as my Mom didn't let me eat cookies, chocolate and ice cream for breakfast, my children will not be allowed to eat every craving that pops into their head.

My little bears just won't necessarily know that I've said "no."

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Normal eating. Is it important to you?

I want to be a normal eater. It's a thought I've had for more than twenty years. For most of those years, I didn't think normal eating was possible for me.

What is normal eating? I talk about normal eating, but I haven't defined normal eating. Rather than a definition, I have a vision of normal eating: I picture my friend Jessica who can keep an open bag of cookies on her desk weeks. Or Tania who frequently tells me "it's just food." I picture my friend Kristin choosing to eat a plum for a snack, not because it's a healthy choice, but because that's what she wants to eat.

It's not that I want to eat the foods the same foods that Jessica,Tania and Kristin, I want to have a similar attitude and thoughts when it comes to food.

Therefore, if I'm eating like a normal person I will:
  • eat reasonable amounts, most of the time;
  • eat a variety of foods;
  • choose to eat healthy foods because I want to not because I have to;
  • not count calories, points or servings;
  • ignore a bag of cookies on the counter and ice cream in the freezer (but eat a cookie and/or a bowl of ice cream if I really want to);
  • not think about food all the time;
  • not struggle with junk food;
  • not be afraid of feeling hungry;
  • understand that food isn't going to taste great all the time;
  • decide to eat food (or not);
  • not feel guilty if I eat too much food, or not enough variety or not eat enough healthy foods;
  • not gain weight just because I'm not longer on a diet.
That is how I see/define normal eating. As it stands, becoming that normal eater seems like a reasonable, achievable goal now. But all things are not important to all people. Is normal eating important to you? Do you have an ideal vision of the eater you want to be?

This post, like so many posts of my posts was inspired by Munchberry's comment on a recent post, What EDNOS means to me.
I wonder who decides what is normal. I know few normal people and am pretty sure it is overrated. I know few thin people who have food in proper perspective. Proper being that it does not rule some aspect of your life or mind. Even my hubby - who I consider the most healthy in relation to food gets a belly occasionally. His pants get tight, he stops overeating. He lacks my creative self delusion.
Still I would prefer not to be so tangled in my relationship with food. That is what I am looking for. I hate the drama. Since I have been home the drama is back. Very dismaying since I was doing so well before and during my trip. But here I am. Not at square one, but if say - I was on square 20 before I am now on square 7. Sigh. I will be glad when summer is over and temptation to eat out of control is diminished.
Munch, I think you decide your own definition of normal eating. From your comment, I think you have formed your own thoughts on what normal eating is for you, which may or may not be an important goal in your journey. From reading about Mr. Munchberry, I think he fits into my definition of a normal eater.

And I'm with you, in the end, I too want to be less tangled in my relationship with food. After all, it's just food right?

Karen @kclanderson.com writes about normal eating, including a post called Practicing "Normal" Eating. If you haven't read it, I recommend that you do.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Please bear with me

Well, I started a post last week; an update on little bear's birthday weekend, but now, almost two weeks later, it's a bit stale and to be honest, I don't really feel like reworking the post.
To sum things up, I'm happy with how I handled a weekend chocked full of social occassions (birthday party and mother's day). I felt like a normal eater. I ate reasonable amounts of food and did not overdo it on appetizers and desserts. I also managed to increase the whole grain intake, so much so that I could have sworn that the quinoa I was eating was stuffing.

But as I said, that was almost two weeks ago. What has happened since? Two things: my job and my little bear.

Last fall, the company I work for was sold by our parent company. The merger was finalized this spring. As the merger was finalized, we were restructured (don't worry I have a job) and my marketing position was eliminated. I moved into a different position, which doesn't allow for creative time management opportunities. In addition, I'm in a new building (closer to the train- yay!), but, the new internet policy is restrictive, meaning that I can't even read a blog, let alone access my blogger account (boo).

At the same time, little bear has hit some developmental milestone that is disturbing his evening bedtime routine. Three weeks ago, little bear required about thirty minutes of stories and cuddling before we put him to bed. Now, thirty minutes has stretched into an hour and half marathon attempting to manage toddler curiosity and separation anxiety (or so the parenting book says).

This mean that the bear bedtime routine ends as late as 9 pm. This doesn't leave much time for mother bear to have a shower, get ready for work, unwind, and crawl in bed by 10:30 PM. Even though I'm confident that this is just a phase, this extended bedtime routine may continue for a while, so I'm going to have to figure out when to write blog postings.

In any case, please bear (ha) with me as I figure out my new work environment and schedule.

I hope you are doing well and I look forward to catching up on your journey!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What EDNOS means to me

NOTE: This is my comment in response to Nicole's of nicoleandgwendolyn.com's blog post: I have homosexuality. Her well-researched and thought out blog post outlines why she does not believe in EDNOS. I've been wanting to write about what EDNOS means to me for a while, so I copied my comment into a post. 

Sometime in the early 90s, I was reading a book on a train ride home from Ottawa. I honestly don’t remember the name of the book or its author, but it was about compulsive eating. Something about making promises to oneself. With that I made my own promise: I will stop purging and just allow myself to put on weight. And with that promise, I stopped purging. (I thought that I can always diet to lose the weight later.)

But, nothing else changed. I still had the bulimic thoughts and mentality. I still binged, but I allowed myself to gain weight. When I became “too big” I went on a diet to compensate.

What was wrong with me? I knew that when I stopped purging that I had not fixed anything. I knew I was still f***ed up. Am I a recovered bulimic who is doomed to struggle every day for the rest of my life to not eat everything in sight?  Just because I stopped purging I was now normal?

I can tell you that in a blink of an eye, I was not fixed/recovered just because I stopped purging.  

Because it’s not about fixing the compensatory behavior, it’s about fixing the mentality. Some of us purge, some of us exercise, some of us stop restrict, some of us chew/spit and some of us gain weight and diet thereafter.

In my case, I replaced purging with dieting as a compensatory behavior. Sure, dieting isn’t as dramatic, but it is still a behavior compensating for the eating disorder mentality. (Unfortunately, dieting is common and viewed as a safe and effective way to control eating, when it is an eating trigger.)

I’ve been struggling with eating, weight and food for more than twenty years. I’ve been searching for answers and seeking help.  In 2010, I decided to see a cognitive behavior therapist and she provided me with an explanation for my constant struggle: an EDNOS diagnosis. More importantly, she helped me to change my negative eating behaviour.

I don’t use it as an excuse; EDNOS verified what I had suspected for years: that there was something wrong with my thinking and that what I was thinking was not normal. 

Upcoming posts (not necessarily in this order):

  • I'm fat: is there something unresolved in my life?
  • More on a food neutral household
  • With respect to food, I've been a four year old preschooler for most of my life
  • Blog anniversary - including my first giveaway!
  • Lunchtime logistics
  • Start a new healthy habit - seriously, it's coming

Monday, May 7, 2012

Shaking up the plan

I've made a decision to try a little bit harder. At least in short manageable chunks of time.

Since my parents returned from Florida and social occassions have increased, I've hit a plateau. I certainly wasn't losing weight in record amounts or time, but throughout the winter, I consistently lost a little bit of weight each week.

But, that has stopped. Why? Well, I'm eating more food. It started with big bear's birthday party (and the days leading up to the party) and has continued on since, with a family dinner party and working overtime and work provided lunch. I'm fine during the work week, but the weekends are proving to be unpredictable - food wise.

Basically, I'm fine as long as there are no unplanned eating events, such as parties, birthday or otherwise. But that's unrealistic, that's not life. I don't live in cacoon, so I have to get a handle on the unplanned eating. Yes, I know I have a plan for unplanned eating, but I think I need to tweak my plan. I need to put more into it.

I'm starting to think about food again. Not obsessively, but I am finding it more difficult to shake off temptation. This is a sign that I'm bored with my food choices. It's time to switch it up. I'm thinking of breakfast in particular. Perhaps I can come up with new snacks.

In any case, here is my plan:
  • Eat more grains (quinoa, barley, couscous etc). I like eating grains, but my kids and hubby want to eat rice and potatoes too. On those days, I'll enjoy previously prepared quinoa.
  • Start running (or walking). I want to get in more exercise, but, I'm going to start slowly and work my way up.
  • Write out what I'm going to eat for Saturday and Sunday. I need more more boundaries, nothing too strict (triggers overeating), but enough that I'll have to stretch my effort a bit.

I'm a little worried. I'm feeling anxious, but if I go slowly, if I remember that I don't need to be perfect, I know it'll work out.

Friday, May 4, 2012

I want something special to eat

Mommy, I want something special to eat.”

I glance at the clock. It's 7:30 in the morning. I wince. Something special is big bear code for something sweet. 

“What do you mean special?” 

“I want two, no three chocolate chips.”

This is one of my worries as a parent. I am worried that I'm going to pass on my food issues to my little bears. The fact that he talks about “special food” is a sign that I have work to do.

"You can have a chocolate chip later, but not for breakfast." I have a variety of responses for big bear when it comes to food. I rotate them around depending on the request, context, time of day and the overall mood of my big bear.

I'm working on creating a food neutral household to minimize food related anxiety. To do this I avoid attaching overly positive or negative labels on food (treats, sweets, healthy, good for you); encourage eating a variety of foods (no need to eat everything, but try everything once) and attempt to defuse a pre-occupation with taste.

It's a challenge. I've been dripping these ideas on big bear (in a preschool friendly way) for just about two years now, but obviously big bear has picked up on the idea of "special" food, and special food is highly valued. 

Big bear has obviously inherited mommy's sweet tooth. He is ruled by his taste buds, turned off by texture and any food that looks "weird." I can almost feel the building frustration of not being able to eat chocolate chips all day growing inside him like a weed. 

I suspect there is both nature and nurture at work here. Nature in that kids may have evolved to avoid certain food types (fruits and vegetables), and developmentally, toddlers choose to play over eating for a few years. And when this happens, I believe that a strong conditioning to eat begins.

I can attest that is alarming when your child stops eating seemingly overnight. Babies know when they are hungry and stop when they are full. But one day, the eating stops. A developmental milestone is reached and eating food moves way down on the priority list and the negotiation (struggle) between parent and child begins. 

Methods to encourage a choosy toddler to eat can range from fairly benign (a food-filled fork is "coming in for landing!") to vegetables or bits of meat hidden under palatable food such as rice or potatoes. More assertive tactics include using a favorite food to encourage eating other foods ("no dessert if you don't eat your vegetables") or engaging a power struggle over eating (child refusing to eat, parent insisting child must eat dinner before leaving table). Food may also used as a reward ("no fussing tonight and I'll give you a treat') or withholding food as a penalty ("no dessert if you don't stop throwing a ball in the house").

The influences continue in the community as positive and negative labels are slapped onto food, commercials and food packaging are designed to influence food choices (thanks for putting all the kid cookies at kid level mr. grocery dude) and stereotypes are passed on regarding certain body types.

How does this affect our children's development? What do they learn?

A child learns to overvalue certain foods (sweets, treats, fast food) at the expense of other foods, a child learns to eat more food than necessary, a child associates food with good and bad behaviour and some children will learn to be freaked out by food and eating. Food is no longer just food, and we live in a community that values thin and demonizes fat. 

From an early age, we are conditioned to eat, hungry or not. 

We do this because it is our culture and our tradition. 

But the conditioning can backfire. Some will eat more food than needed and gain weight. Others may want to emulate overly thin models and actresses who are showcased in movies and magazines and develop a distorted body image. 

Some will diet and lose weight. Food anxiety increases, worrying that the weight will come back. Anxiety leads to overeating, gaining weight and more dieting. More worry, more anxiety, more eating, more weight gain, shameful feelings, more anxiety, more eating and more dieting. 

Some will get stuck in the diet mentality, a vicious cycle of restriction and overeating; losing and gaining weight.

I think that as a community we need to rethink about how we think about food. We need to think about what we are telling our children about food and how that will affect their eating behaviour as adults. 

We are conditioned to eat (and overeat).

We should be able to eat, like a normal person; a variety of foods that fuels our body and when the mood strikes, something that just tastes good. 

Upcoming posts:

  • I'm fat: is there something unresolved in my life?
  • More on a food neutral household
  • With respect to food, I've been a four year old preschooler for most of my life 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Social eating: big bear's birthday party

Last weekend we hosted big bear's 4th birthday party at our house. This meant lots of food, drinks and a whole lot of stress. From my last post, I had a plan to keep a handle on the social eating. My plan was simple, write down what I was going to eat before eating and stick to it.

So how did it all shake out? Did I make a plan? Did I follow it? Did I need a plan?

Actually, the party itself was fine. Typically, I overeat on appetizers, but I barely touched them. The appetizers were in another room. Plus, I picked fairly friendly choices to serve: hummus, tzatiki with crackers, shrimp and a vegetable plate. For dinner, hubby made pulled pork sandwiches, bean salad and coleslaw. For dessert, I had one cupcake from big bear's puzzle birthday cake.

Did I plan beforehand? No. In this case, I didn't really need one for the party. Probably because I had a lot of control over the food choices and it was busy and stressful. However, even though I managed fairly well with the food at the party, leading up to the party was another story. Mainly because of the birthday boys cake (below).

I snacked my way through the baking and decorating process. I also made two trips to the Bulk Barn and helped myself to the smarties and gummy dinasours that I picked up. Plus I made 3 cups of buttercream icing. And I'll admit to partaking in a bit of leftover icing.

What are the lessons learned from big bear's birthday party? Next time, I will make an eating plan for the cake making and decorating. Lucky for me, more practice is coming: little bear's birthday party is in two weeks!

Ok, it's off to bed, I'm nodding off while typing.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Social eating - the final frontier of overeating

I need to call my therapist. I need to discuss with her the bane of my weight loss journey - social eating.

After three months of small but consistent weight losses, I registered a gain of 3.6 pounds on Wednesday. To be honest, I'm not too concerned about this gain, as I've expelled (you know what I mean) 1.8 pounds and another pound can be attributed to switching to a new scale.

The primary factor in the weight gain was the Easter weekend that included a big family dinner (including appetizers and desserts), hot cross buns for breakfast on Easter Sunday, immediately followed by candy and chocolate during the Easter egg hunt. In addition, the night before the Wednesday weigh-in a tragic train accident  occurred on the train tracks west of my stop, leaving me and thousands of commuters stranded in Toronto.

My friend Tania and I went to a nearby sports pub for dinner waiting for the train to resume service. We ordered a quesadilla and split an order of French fries. Frankly, the quesadilla was terrible, way too spicy. The following day, we both commented that we should have sent it back to the kitchen. The fries were OK, a bit of an emotional choice, as it is stressful not knowing when you are going to get home.

Of course, eating at a restaurant meant more food sitting behind the Easter dinner, chocolate and hot cross buns and no quinoa to help push it all through. Therefore, the 3.6 pound gain the following morning.

After a relatively quiet winter, the social calendar is quickly filling up with family dinners, birthday parties and holidays that start with spring and goes right through the summer. This is great socially, but challenging when it comes to losing weight. 

Cognitive behaviour therapy has changed how I think about food. I'm not tempted by food in the normal course of a day. Two years ago it was a rare day when I could make it through a day without spending money on a snack. Now, I rarely spend money on snacks. But social eating is a different matter entirely.

At social functions I have to walk a thin line between eating and abstaining. I need to eat the right amount of food so that I don't feel like I'm on a diet, but not too much food that I derail weight loss. Thinking back on Easter weekend, I could have abstained a little more and sat with the anxiety of resisting temptation.

Since my weekly weight loss is typically small (on average ~0.8 pounds per week), it is safe to assume that the margin between weight loss and either gaining or staying the same is narrow. In other words, overeating at a social function can easily halt the already slow weight loss process.

My therapist is on mat leave, but I think she would suggest planning the food I'm going to eat before the event. My therapist instructed me to plan all my meals this way in our first session. If I am hosting, I will be specific, if not, I will be as specific as possible:

Sample social eating meal plan - menu particulars unknown
- Appetizers: two pieces of each type, to a maximum of six pieces. No limit on vegetables.
- Main meal: unlimited vegetables, reasonable serving size of bread/starchy and protein, if interested, one glass of wine.
- Dessert: one piece that is slightly smaller serving with respect to the other pieces being served.

For months I planned all the food I ate in this manner. Interestingly, the trick to eating less is to plan to eat more and in the end, I would choose to eat less. To be honest, the appetizer count above may be too restrictive, but I can give it a try and plan differently for the next party.

Changing behaviour doesn't happen overnight, it takes time and practice. Luckily (I think) I have frequent opportunities to practice coming up.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Losing weight & eat whatever you want: the answer is simple

June 2011, I wrote a post titled How do I lose weight and eat whatever I want? In this post, I defined the terms of my no diet diet plan, which I still follow (although never meticulously) to this day. However, this post isn't really about following my personally-defined eating plan, but the simplicity of the answer to the original title of the post. 

How do you lose weight and eat whatever you want? 

The answer is simple. You change what you want to eat.

Everyday at lunch, I eat a leafy salad, fruit, a piece of gluten-free rye bread (toasted) topped with a protein choice (tuna/egg salad or hummus). For the work week, I prepare the various parts of my lunch on Sunday so it is simple to assemble it in the morning. However, last Tuesday night I forgot to prepare the head of green leaf lettuce for the next day (wash, tear into bite size pieces, spin, place in lettuce storage container). So I found myself washing lettuce on Wednesday morning, which is stressful (I hate the time-crunch) and time-consuming (I'm out the door at 6:30 with the two bears, so I have to be organized).

That's when I realized that I prefer to eat my lunch prepared at home rather than the food that I can buy at work. I would rather endure the stress of upsetting the morning routine and increasing the possibility of missing my train because I would prefer to eat my leafy lunch over a subway sub, fish and chips at the pub, sushi with tempura or perhaps a mini-pizza from Panago.

I'm one of those bring your lunch to work kind of gals. I just can't fathom the amount of money that people spend buying their lunch everyday. I've been brown-bagging my lunch for years, for a lifetime in fact. 

But in the past, from time-to-time, I looked forward to the day when there just wasn't the time to pull together a lunch or I forgot it on the kitchen counter so I could buy my lunch. And when I bought my lunch, I wanted something different; which usually translated into a meal with a side of french fries, bigger portions, more carbs and way more fat. But not now. The internal panic button goes off and I go into scramble mode. I spin a head of lettuce between pulling on my pants and putting on a new diaper on the baby bear. 

While I still enjoy the taste of pub/restaurant/fast food, I now prefer the taste of healthier foods. I chose to satisfy a need to eat nutritious foods as opposed to foods that only satisfy my taste buds. When I do buy my lunch, I seek out (and if part of a group suggest) healthier establishments. With one group of friends, we meet in the food court and eat our own lunch prepared at home, or we forgo the food and just chat.

Do you want to eat whatever you want and lose weight? The solution is simple, just change what you want to eat.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Why I eat quinoa on Monday and Tuesday

I love the feeling of an upcoming bowel movement first thing in the morning. Especially on Wednesday, which is the day I step on the scale. I rise from bed at 5:10 and I hope for the evacuation process to begin no later than 6:00 am. Timing was a bit off this past Wednesday as I was fully clothed and about to leave the house with my kids in tow when the need finally came to pass.

So this Wednesday I weighed in crap and all. The scale did not move. Zero, zip, zilch.


Then the floodgates opened twenty minutes later and continued on the remainder of the day. But, it was too late. I recorded "0" in the progress report for March 21.

I must admit that I wasn't surprised by Wednesday's results. Nowadays I have a much better sense as to what the scale is going to do. Of course it is still unpredictable, but I can look back on my food choices, the amount of exercise I fit in, and I can feel it when I'm retaining water. However, the best indicator of weight loss (or not) seems to be the frequency of bowel movements. If you ain't pooin' the scale ain't movin'.

Last week, the regularity train ended heading into the work week. How do I say this delicately? I wasn't experiencing, you know, anything... well, satisfying. Upon reflection, I surmise that this state of semi-constipation occurred due a few instances of unusual weekend eating.

- All normal, however, lunch's selection wasn't as healthy as the rest of the day. We went to the Maple Syrup Festival at Bronte Creek Provincial Park. The little bears were delighted to look at the cows, pigs and peacocks, run on the top of a course of hay bales, and the tractor ride to the pancake house. So, lunch consisted of three pancakes with maple syrup and bacon.

- All normal, however lunch was not as healthy as the rest of the day. My friend and I went shopping in Buffalo. I knew the prospects of getting a decent salad at the food court was minimal, so I opted to eat lunch breakfast (salad, piece of gluten-free toast with hummus). For lunch, I settled on a grilled chicken souvlaki pita with a salad.

The meal was massive, and I forgot to tell the Mr. Souvlaki employee to take it easy with the salad dressing and toppings (must have been daydreaming). As he squeezed a massive amount of salad dressing on the salad and did the same with the tzatziki for the sandwich. A few hours later on the trek home, we stopped at McDonald's for a drink and a snack (small french fries).

This leads to another observation about the digestive system. Digestion appears to slow down whenever I choose to eat food prepared anywhere else besides at home. I suspect this happens due to a combination of factors from eating less vegetables and fibre, eating bigger portions etc. And it takes time (three days) for the everything to, you know, get back to normal.

In any case, to safeguard against this sort of issue, I implemented an informal eating guideline - one which I did not follow last week - I eat a side of quinoa for dinner on Monday and Tuesday nights. It just seems to get things, you know, moving.

So the next time your meal consists of processed/junk food, try to eat more fruits, vegetables and quinoa to get it moved through your system.

As for me, last Wednesday's result was zero; however, after the um, log jam cleared, the next morning I weighed in 1.4 pounds down. I'm telling you, if you ain't pooin', the scale ain't moving.

Friday, March 16, 2012

I only eat fruit in the morning

I just got back from the pool. It was a longer workout tonight from 9 to 10:30. The coach put me in a faster lane. It's a good challenge that will increase my stamina and speed faster.

Anyhow, I thought I'd write a quick post about a workplace conversation before I head to bed.

First a bit of background. On a daily basis, a neighbouring department participates in communal snacking on a daily basis; chips, cookies, baked goods, chocolates. On some occassions I see fruit or vegetables. Today they were eating Pirate cookies and multigrain nachos. Of course, they can eat whatever they want, but they do seem to be eating all this stuff out of habit. In any case, this particular conversation left me scratching my head.

Co-worker A: Hey would you like to have a pear?

Co-worker B: No, it's the afternoon, I only eat fruit in the morning.

I stop working and stand up.

Me: What? Why can't you eat fruit in the afternoon?

Co-worker B: I read that you should only eat fruit in the morning.

Me: But it's OK to eat multigrain nachos in the afternoon?

Co-worker B (with a bit of a laugh): Nachos aren't on the list...

From her laugh, I can tell that on some level even co-worker B realizes that her logic is ridiculous. It funny how she read a tip in a magazine/book/website and blindy follows this rule to the point where she actually believes that nachos is a better snack choice than a pear (or at least hasn't fully thought about this throughly).

She is actually doing herself a disservice on two fronts. She is eliminating fruit as a food choice for an afternoon/evening snack and is limiting the amount of fruit she eats since she can only eat fruit during a five-hour window each day.

Do you know anyone following a ridiculous dieting or healthy eating tip? Is your workplace a virtual food minefield? Are you having fun at your job?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Taking back accountability

I glance at the clock on my bedside table. It's 5:09. My kitty senses that I’m awake, meows as he saunters to my side for a cuddle, hoping to get me out of bed as soon as possible. It’s a weekday, so the little fur-ball is in luck. I shuffle out of bed quietly as to not to disturb hubby. In the kitchen, I turn on the coffee maker and head to the basement. I feed the kitty and his friend fishy, fix my hair and apply makeup. I hear that hubby is in the shower.

It is 5:47 when I emerge from the basement into the kitchen.

“Morning how was your sleep? Did anything interesting happen?” I ask a freshly showered hubby. He mumbles a “morning” and confirms that nothing interesting happened during his sleep. We continue the morning routine to assemble lunches, breakfast, coffee (him), peppermint tea (me) and snacks (little bears) for the car.

It is 6:03 when I return to the bedroom to get dressed. It’s Wednesday, so I strip down to my socks and hop on the scale. I’m down (yay) less than a pound, but that’s fine by me.

I’m amazed how much simpler it is to step on the scale at home than to do so TOPS, or at Weight Watchers. Why the heck did I put so much stock into accountability?

To lose weight, I always thought that I absolutely needed to be accountable to someone.  Typically, I went to Weight Watchers or made some sort of an arrangement with a friend. But, WW is expensive and checking in with a friend is inconvenient.

So in March 2010 and six months into therapy I still wanted/needed accountability. I decided that TOPS was a good place to get accountability. It’s inexpensive and local. I attended a meeting (LONG) and signed up. Most of the members of TOPS were women, and they were all lovely, positive and supportive. I can see why so many of them are long term members.

I planned to weigh in at TOPS each week, skip most, but attend some of the meetings and to follow my own eating program. I was in it for the long term (years), however long it would take to lose the weight.

The first weigh in was semi-shocking. Looking back, the results weren’t surprising, only ten pounds less than my last weigh in at the obstetrician’s office. Of course, my number lead to feelings of guilt and shame and I went into a short-lived funk. (My therapist wanted me to weigh myself so my weight wouldn’t be so shocking to me creating such a funk.)

For the second weigh in, I gained and the lady recording my weight expressed her concern by asking me about the foods I ate, did I drink enough water? Did I exercise? I explained to her that it’s fine that I gained, I’m here to weigh myself and I’m not actually following the TOPS program or lose weight.

 The third weigh in was another gain. With it, more questions that came from the heart, but left me a little freaked out. I was fine with the gain but I was beginning to worry about how to handle reactions from everyone else. So, I explained the situation again (I’m just here to use the scale, I’m not trying to lose weight, etc.) and I wondered if joining TOPS was such a great idea after all.

In therapy, I learned to not react to the scale – either way – not to get upset over a gain or overly excited over a loss. It’s just a number. Of course, handling everyone else’s reactions was another story altogether. It was impossible to avoid the standard question, “how did you do?” or the silent equivalent; thumbs up, big smile, head turned slightly and eye brows lifted. And the inevitable analyzing to figure out what went wrong and what I can do to make sure that I don’t gain the following week.

This improved after I spoke to the group about my journey and discoveries in therapy, but the stress was still there. In August I questioned why I needed third party accountability. That’s when I realized, never in my life had I been accountable to myself. I always thought that that I needed to give that responsibility to someone else; be it Weight Watchers, TOPS or a friend.

In October I took the responsibility of accountability back and I have been my own weight recorder since.
The bonus is that I can weigh myself for free when it works for me: on Wednesday mornings at 6 am, wearing nothing except for socks to keep my feet warm… 

NOTE: Blogger has flagged me as spammer. I noticed that comments that I make on blogger blogs disappear. Munchberry confirmed this and she is finding my comments in spam. So I've been making comments, they just may appear in your SPAM folder, please check. 

Funny: while testing the commenting widget on my blog, I noticed that I'm flagged as spam on my own blog when I'm not signed into blogger itself. That's when I discovered the "I'm not a robot" widget. Fellow Blogger bloggers, how do you turn off the "I'm not a robot" comment gatekeeper? It must be standard now as I don't remember adding this tool.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Battling the muffin in my head

I'm not much of a shopper, but last weekend, I wanted to buy a Lug bag. More specifically, the Taxi Full Tote. Rarely do I feel the urge to buy something and rarely do I declare to my sweet husband, "I need to go to Mapleview Mall this weekend, I really want this bag!"

My little bears are almost four and almost two, so thankfully, I don't need to carry around quite as much crap, so I'm hoping to make the transition from a diaper bag to well, a big bag. So while hubby took the big bear to skating lessons, little bear and I trudged off to the mall in Burlington. 

Unknowingly we arrived a half hour before the store opened. However, the food court, the convenience store and the Starbucks were open for business with tempting aromas of fresh-baked muffins and donuts wafting through the mall.

I thought to myself: Mmmm, a muffin would be good right now.  

Immediately an inner dialogue began.

Wait. Why am I tempted to buy a muffin from Tim Horton's? It's junk food. I had oatmeal and grapefruit for breakfast, what is going on?

I took a few moments to clear my thoughts.

OK, I want the muffin because it is in front of me and it smells good. I could be tempted out of habit - historically, a visit to the mall usually means eating something at the mall." 

The mental discussion continues as I get in line at Tim Horton's.

I'm not hungry, it's my brain that wants the muffin not my body. If I eat this muffin it is one step closer to having two weeks of unusual eating. 

"Can I take your order?" asks the Tim Horton's cashier.

It'll be fine once I'm out of the food court and away from all the food. Out of sight is out of mind.

"A large peppermint tea please." I reply.

The little bear and I head out to a sitting area away from the food court. The need for the muffin subsides. I distract my thoughts by watching my little bear fling a goldfish onto the floor and run back back and forth between the couch and the overhang that looks to the floor below. 

Before therapy, I would hold onto a temptation (let's say a muffin) and refuse to let it go. By doing so, I had to continually battle the urge to not eat the muffin the rest of the hour/day/week. Finally eating the muffin seemed to be the only way to stop thinking about the muffin.   

Looking back, I needed double the willpower: one dose to abstain from eating the muffin in front of me, and another dose for the muffin in my head so I wouldn't hunt down a muffin even when there was no muffin in sight.

I don't really now why I felt the need to hold on to a temptation. Perhaps I didn't think to make things easier on myself, or thought that I deserved to take the difficult route. Perhaps it had to do with years of cycles of restricting and overeating, or maybe I was subconsciously punishing myself for being overweight (or see myself as overweight). 

In any case, now I know: when I'm tempted to eat junk food, just walk away and let it go.

NOTE: It seems that blogger has flagged me as spammer. I noticed that comments that I make on blogger blogs disappear. Munchberry confirmed this and she is finding my comments in spam. So I've been making comments, they just may appear in your SPAM folder, please check. 

Has this happened to anyone? One day blogger deleted my blog (OMG) as they said it was spam. I went through a process (trying not to panic) to restore my blog, but I'm guessing that this is why my comments are going to the spam folder. If anyone knows how to remedy this situation, please let me know!