Tuesday, July 8, 2014

RE: Grazing (Extra Circular Eating) and Tracking

From:   Kara
Sent:    July-08-14 9:29:43 AM
To:      Jennifer

I saw my therapist yesterday to talk about my extra circular eating (my term) - or grazing (her term). She had some great suggestions, and helped pinpoint the reason for grazing.

Interestingly, we've already identified the two triggers contributing to the morning and evening grazing: too much time between meals (I was eating breakfast more than three hours after I get up in the morning) and I was rebelling against my own self-imposed rule to not eat a snack after dinner (if I tell myself to not eat - I will eat).  So funny that I didn't see what now seems obvious.

Starting today, I'm going to do the following:

- Make and eat my oatmeal within 30 minutes of waking up in the morning.
- Eat again when I get to work.
- Eat an evening snack - twice a week a treat type snack; the other times something more nutritious like fruit plus protein.

So far so good today. I had my oatmeal before 6 am while assembling all the lunches, enjoyed a peppermint tea on the train and finished breakfast with cottage cheese at work and NO GRAZING!!!

We also talked about anxiety, how I am overwhelmed about looking for a new job etc. She suggested an mindfulness app to help with the anxiety and she helped me come up with a plan to designate certain activities each evening:

- Monday - the bachelorette and blogging (optional)
- Tuesday & Thursday - apply for jobs
- Wednesday & Friday - walking

I'm going to see her again on July 29...


From:   Jennifer 
Sent:   July-08-14 9:36:22 AM
To:       Kara


Great tips from the therapist - sounds like tips I got too - like eating several times a day and not restricting yourself.

Did you talk about tracking? The reason I brought up tracking is because you said you wanted to talk about it to her.

I haven't been diligent with the tracking of late and I am up a couple of pounds so I know it works for me.  I want to try to find a balance - maybe track one week a month.  Not sure - I am going to speak to the therapist about it.  


From: Kara
Sent: July-08-14 9:54:38 AM
To:          Jennifer

Yes, we talked about tracking. My therapist only uses tracking for her patients in the very beginning of the process (write stuff down before eating). She doesn't think that tracking is helpful for me as it triggers way too much anxiety. We're simply fine tuning some of my behaviours.

She said that I've been a successful intuitive eater for more than three years; eating without a plan and without tracking. People who are naturally thin don't track their food; it is too much work and personally is too much like a diet.

I know tracking is helping you - I'm so proud of what you have accomplished. Tracking is not a good fit for me. After last night's session, I feel very confident that with work I can permanently minimize grazing with the help of my therapist.

The interesting thing about intuitive eating is how natural it is. It reminds me of the description of naturally thin people's eating behaviours from the Beck Diet Solution by Judith Beck. Thin people naturally make healthier choices and eat less if they happen to eat heavier foods and/or bigger portions.

I talked about this with my therapist...I find now that on those heavier days at some point I naturally eat less or better quality food and those few pounds that I went up it goes down again. So when I say that my weight is stable, it goes up and down, but on average it stays the same.

However, if I'm tracking every calorie/point yada yada, I'm unsure if I would have gotten to this point where I can eat naturally - no plan and no tracking. I trust that in the end that I make choices to maintain my current weight and I'm not gaining.

At some point in your program will they transition you to a program without tracking? Learn to trust that you will make choices naturally - sometimes you eat more and sometimes you eat less? If this is something you want for yourself - I know you can do it...

From: Jennifer 
Sent: July-08-14 10:00:31 AM
To:          Kara 

Hi Kara,

Actually the therapist says the same thing to me about tracking.  Once I feel like I am at a good weight for me we will discuss not tracking but right now it is working for me.  

You know yourself pretty well and three years is amazing Kara!!  I only hope I can keep doing it too...and I think I have the tools to be successful.


From:    Kara
Sent:     July-08-14 4:14:19 PM
To:       Jennifer

I've eaten so much less today. No grazing. Mind you this isn't an issue at work, it's more a home problem, but I'm already looking forward to eating some squash for a snack tonight!

From:  Jennifer 
Sent:  July-08-14 6:53:25 PM
To:          Kara 

YEAH!!!  Good for you in seeking help/reassurance.

From:  Kara
Sent:  July-08-14 7:06:34 PM
To:          Jennifer


Would you be ok if I turned this into a blog post?

From: Jennifer 
Sent: July-08-14 7:08:49 PM
To:         Kara 

Sure - no problem!  

It's raining again...


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Update - A long, cold and snowy winter brings new discoveries!

I've been out of touch lately. In fact I've been spotty on updating for quite a while.

It was an interesting winter and spring - lots of snow, rain and random illnesses among the members of my family. Stomach flu, colds, ear infections, topped of with me catching a bout of pneumonia.

So weird.

I'm also looking for a new job as my career is not where I want it to be. The job application process is very time consuming and uncomfortable. I had a round of interviews for the perfect job. The interviews went really well, but I just found out today that the position went to someone else. Sigh.

I've also made a few interesting discoveries on my thinking like a thin person journey.

I discovered that transition times are an eating trigger. In addition, I've realized that I go out of my way to avoid the uncomfortable feelings from anxiety. This is food related, but also affects other aspects of my life.

Plus I am now exploring a new life strategy. Anything that I need to do, but I don't want to do, I am going to learn to like said activity (such as leaving the house after the kids go to bed).

For the time being, I'm going to write diary type blog posts, so I can keep better track of the day to day happenings.

In any case, I hope you are all well!


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Guest Post - Rethinking Dining Out

Jennifer and I met and became fast friends at work fifteen years ago. Jennifer has always loved eating out at restaurants. After talking to her about my experience with cognitive behaviour therapy to change my eating behaviour, she sought out a program with similar goals. 

When she started the program she specifically stated that she was not going to change her behaviour when it came to dining out at restaurants. So, I was surprised how quickly her ideas (within months) about restaurant eating changed of her new CBT-based program. 

I asked her to write about her change in heart about restaurant eating; her new outlook, her strategy for eating at restaurants. Jennifer's 50 pound loss in 9 months demonstrates that you don't have to choose between all or nothing. You can continue to eat out at restaurants and make healthier choices too.

Thanks for sharing Jennifer!

I swear I was born with a menu in my hand.

As long as I can remember, I've enjoyed going to restaurants.  When I was eight years old I begged my parents to let me order from the adult menu. At that young age, I was worried there wouldn't be enough food in the kiddies’ portion.  As I grew up, the ambiance, taste, smell and social aspect of restaurant dining became an important part of my life.

Throughout our friendship, Kara and I frequently discuss our relationship with food. Last year, I decided to tackle my own eating behaviors and signed up for Medcan’s Weight Loss Program featuring a medically managed behavior modification with a cognitive behaviour therapist.

At Medcan, the results on the scale from weekly weigh-ins are less of a focus.  But let’s face it; I sought therapy because I wanted to lose weight for health reasons.  When starting this program I vowed that I would not change my restaurant eating routine.  After all, it was my social outlet and a favorite hobby.

Initially, I lost 21 pounds in two months. However, I quickly grew frustrated once I hit a plateau and maintained the same weight for three weeks. I discussed this plateau with Christine, the program nutritionist and she told me two things I’ll never forget:

"Add 300 calories to a meal eaten at a restaurant to take into account the bigger portions and fat, salt and sugar used to prepare their food. If the food you ordered tastes really good, you know they've added fat."
"You need to rethink about your approach to eating at restaurants. Drastic changes aren't required - just some minor modifications to start."

To re-think my approach towards restaurant eating, Christine offered three suggestions to modify my behaviour:

Reduce the number of times eating out:
I admit it – I was eating out three to four times per week. She suggested limiting the number of times to eating out at a restaurant to two times per week.

But how could I give up this ingrained routine that I love so much? Not only was I giving up restaurant food, but I was also limiting the social aspect of eating out.

Christine suggested non-food activities such as going for a walk, watching a movie or participating in a sporting event as an alternate.  Non-food activities proved to satisfy my need for social interaction. To be honest, I didn't really miss the food.

I am surprised when I receive little resistance from friends and family when I suggested non-food alternate activities.  Instead of dinner out, a friend and I went bowling; to make it more exciting we bet who would win.  We were so competitive that we didn’t bother with beer or food!

Choose the restaurant ahead of time
Selecting the restaurants ahead of time has become a go-to strategy.  At first, this took some convincing with my friends as we typically take turns selecting the restaurants.  It’s no surprise that we naturally choose restaurants serving  comfort food such as wings and fries.

However, after researching venues and successfully suggesting new restaurants for dining, I am the designated restaurant selector in some of my social circles – and I am working on the rest too!

Now I can control the type and quality of the food that we eat, increasing the chances of eating a lighter and healthier choice. The other advantage is that I can pre-select a lighter entrée so I can order a glass of wine at the restaurant.

Learn to Love Home Cooked Meals
Renewing an interest in home-cooked meals means eating less frequently at restaurants.

I love seeing the look on my husband’s face when I have prepared a new dish.  Last week I prepared an Indian dish consisting of lentils, rice and saffron. Since I am in control of the ingredients, my meal was lower in calories than a restaurant version.

I fear deprivation.  Eating home-cooked meals is a tool to manage deprivation. I can decide to use (or not) the 300 extra calories required for a restaurant meal and enjoy a glass of wine or walk to the local gelato shop.

My therapist also helped to reframe my perception: I asked why some people can eat as much food as they want, but I can’t. He replied: chances are, those people don't eat this way all the time. He also suggested hanging out with people who had the same thinking with respect to food like Kara. When we meet for lunch, we bring our own food from home and go for a walk too.

As you can see, I haven’t given up my love of restaurant eating but I have changed the way I think about it.  Restaurant eating is no longer the be all end all as it once was for me.  I still enjoy dining in restaurants everywhere, but I now enjoy other activities such as cooking, watching movies, bowling and walking.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Did I stay or did I go running?

I knew I was in trouble when hubby went to bed on Saturday night before me. He snored his way through "After Earth." Typically, I'm the one sleeping through the movie and he's the one watching and filling in the plot points the next day. Frankly, I'm shocked that the movie didn't put me to sleep, but then again I was working on a Shutterfly photobook. In any case, once the movie ended, he went to bed.

Hubby going to bed first is a problem. I have a hard time falling asleep if hubby is already in bed. It disrupts my bedtime routine. I like to fall asleep watching TV. I'm usually out by the time the 30 minute shut off timer on the TV needs to be reset. Of course, he also snores.

Unfortunately, I wasn't tired so I decided to watch an episode of Homeland. Then another episode. It was almost 2 am by the time I crawled into bed. Of course, once in bed, I had trouble falling asleep. I tossed and turned. Overall it just wasn't a good night of sleep. And I slept through my planned running/walking outing.

So I need a better plan. I need to make it part of my weekend routine. My weekday routines work like a finely tuned  machine, however, the weekends are a bit of the wild west, in terms of eating and exercise. Weekend time is not as structured as weekdays and the amount of planned and last-minute activities varies from weekend to weekend.

It's time to figure out the weekends.

Next post: my friend Jennifer writes about how cognitive behaviour therapy has changed her thoughts on eating out at restaurants!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

It's winter! Time to start running again!

As I drove my car out of the Oakville Go Train station on Thursday night, I couldn't help but notice a large group of runners (~40 people) decked out in neon green/orange/yellow jackets running drills up and down the hill on Cross Avenue. The temperature was approximately -16 degree temperature (~-30 with the windchill).

I'm taking this as a sign that it is time to start running again. Or at least walking around the neighbourhood at a nice clip on a regular basis. I'm not much of a runner. It's interesting to note that I gravitate towards low impact sports: swimming, rowing, in-line skating and cycling. I find running jarring on my joints: bam, bam, bam, bam. It is an effort to get into running. However, once I get into it, I understand what all the fuss is about.

I prefer running outside instead of inside, so the weather is a factor. Personally, I like winter running better than summer running. I like to sweat, but I don't like to be super overheated. I can only take off so much clothing in the summer. However, in the winter, I can always add more.

Speaking about the weather, we've had a couple of cold snaps this winter here in Southern Ontario this winter and more snow than usual. Years ago, when I trained for a 10K during the winter and I loved running in -30 degree temperatures and marveling at my frozen eyebrows, eyelashes. However the idea of heading out for a run (mostly walking really) after a seven year absence in the same super cold temperatures and blizzard-like conditions is not ideal setting to start running again. My motivation and resolve melts like the snow in spring.

What I need is a plan. Without a plan, it just won't happen.

Therefore my short term plan is to head out tomorrow morning, preferably first thing before the bears get out of bed (which is a challenge since the big one gets up before 6 am).

Will I? Won't I? I have to go with I will, otherwise I won't!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

How to avoid overeating at the company's quarterly update meeting

Before the meeting
There is a corporate update meeting tonight after work.

To be honest, I'm apprehensive about attending. The meeting extends the workday and to encourage employee attendance, there are serving a finger foods to enjoy. So, this is more than an update meeting, it is a minefield of potential eating triggers.

I'm going up against my three main triggers for overeating:
  • Social eating;
  • Anxiety from food itself: finger foods are laced with salt, sugar and fat that creates the maximum allure and strong short term cravings. This food that your mind (and my mind) wants to eat, but it is not food that my body wants as it is packed with fat and calories; 
  • Deviating from my normal routine. 
At this moment, I'm considering my plan. A few options come to mind:
  • go with the flow and eat whatever
  • eat my small container of cut fruit at the meeting instead of the food that is offered
  • eat my small container of cut fruit just before heading to the meeting
  • decide on the number and type of finger foods I can eat and use visualization techniques to practice
  • some sort of combination of the options above.
What am I going to do? What would you do?

After the meeting
The meeting is over. My plan for handling the food at town hall worked well. My plan was simple: eat my small container of cut fruit at the meeting and up to five finger foods. I spent a few minutes visualizing and thinking about my plan before heading to the meeting.

I'm slightly surprised that I wasn't anxious or feeling deprived. When the food stations opened, I looked to see what was available, and picked one of each of the following items:

  • beef wellington ball
  • coconut shrimp
  • mushroom tartlet
  • small macaroon
  • apple/cinnamon spice tart thing

I enjoyed eating my plate of things, carefully considering the taste of each piece. Once I was done, I was satisfied. I didn't want or need more food. Heck, I'm a little surprised that I didn't eat my fruit. I believe it also helped that I ate two parts (toast with tuna and a bowl of roasted spaghetti squash) of my lunch at 2 pm.

Once I arrived home, I ate a bowl of pasta, before heading into the kids' night time routine.

Having a plan really worked. I'll make sure I have one in place for all events!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Update - The two year weight plateau

After years and years of cycling between periods of restricting and overeating, I was either losing weight or gaining weight, there was no in between. My weight was never stable. Until now.

So, I'm still kind of amazed that I can eat without following a diet, eat like a normal person and NOT gain weight. Eating without a struggle and stable weight for two years is something to celebrate and is massive leap forward in my journey.

However, do I want to stay at my current weight? Do I want to stay at this weight for the rest of my life? No, I don't. I want to loose more weight. And while I am not ready to write down here how much I weigh, I can confirm that I remain more than 20 pounds heavier than my pre-pregnancy weight.

But, I have to be careful on how I proceed. I am prepared to sit with the discomfort from the food-related anxiety. I'm prepared to push the boundaries of all the lessons learned in cognitive behaviour therapy to tackle this plateau and getting the numbers on the scale moving down again. I know that I don't need to make huge changes to my current eating routines, but I do have to make changes.

Fight more of the evening cravings and strive to be more mindful.

I know I can do it.