It's not that I don't have willpower. It's that I know myself, and I know that if I embark on a diet regimen that I believe to be restrictive, I will inevitably fail. And I will fail because I will spend the entire time I'm dieting looking forward to the time when the diet is "over" or when I, at the least, give myself a day off.
It's kind of like when I know I need to get a new job: if I spend every waking minute at a job looking forward to the time when I won't be there, my days at said job are limited.
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Note: I get off on some crazy diet/what-I-ate-today tangent for almost the entirety of this post. Feel free to ignore it. You can pick back up at the end, after the last set of asterisks.
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So nearest I can figure, WW points system is, when boiled down and over-simplified, a calorie counter. It advocates healthy eating and foods that are low-fat, high-fiber and all that, but at the end of the day you're counting your calories. Which, frankly, works.
It's just not a lot of fun.
"Fun" I say, as compared to something like Atkins. Oh, I know, you don't need to bitch at me. I know that Atkins seems insane and unhealthy, but it also happens to work. And given the choice between WW's pre-packaged oatmeal (which is pretty tasty and only 2 points) and, you know, bacon...well, pass the pork products, please.
No, no, but I'm not doing Atkins, either. Even I can't get over the guilt I feel eating fatty meats and creams and cheeses every day.
So, basically, I think I'm mostly advocating/starting/trying a "modified" version of South Beach. (We'll get to the "modified" part later.)
South Beach, as I've touted before, is not really a "diet." The book does its best to make it seem like a regimented thing, but basically you can learn the principles and apply them to your whole eating life, and live happily ever after.
South Beach Basics:
- The less processed the food, the better.
- Stay away from bad carbs: anything high in sugar or overly refined.
- If you are going to eat carbs, eat them sparingly and choose wisely: select whole grains, brown rice, beans, less-sweet fruits (berries, melons). Try and keep your portions of carbs to one a day.
- Meats and cheeses and creams are okay, but don't go crazy. Eat lean meats and low- and non-fat dairy whenever possible.
At least, that's a good starting point. Now, next, I add some old, tried-and-true "tricks" of the trade.
- TRY not to eat anything after 8 p.m.
- Drink lots of water.
- Eat more in the beginning of the day than at the end of the day.
- Eat several small meals throughout the day instead of three big ones (easier for me to do because I don't have kids and spend most of my day at an office).
- Control portion size in general. If eating out, do not finish everything on the plate. (Some people swear by only eating half of whatever they're served, anywhere they go. That is awesome in theory, but just not reasonable for me!)
- And, as for drinky-drinks...well, obviously I have to cut back. And when I do drink, I must select only non-sugary options.
See that last one? Yeah. There are some studies (unverified, but I believe them) that show the sugars used in the beer-making process are super-bad for us: that is, they get stored as fat immediately. (Definitely NOT "good" carbs). So unless you're in great shape and working out all the time, beer is going to go straight to your belly (in a way that other drinks won't).
- Opt for things like gin and soda (there's sugar in tonic) or rum and diet coke.
- Remember, margaritas are delicious...and can be 500 calories a pop! (yeah, hi. 500! NO MARGARITAS FOR ME!)
- No beer. Period. Not even light.
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So now that it's after my birthday and all the hullabaloo of the last few months has died down, I feel pretty confident that I can lose weight.
And sure, I have felt this before and failed. But it only takes one time to succeed, you know?
I officially started on Wednesday, my first day back at work.
Here's how it panned out (complete with explanation of thought processes):
In the morning, I nibbled on some almonds and had my usual black coffee.
I am lucky; I prefer my coffee black. I don't have to cut back on anything there.
For lunch, I had fresh ham with a slice of provolone and a little bit of mayo on fresh sourdough bread.
Sourdough bread, while not whole grain, has a lower impact on our glycemic levels than white bread. Also, I know the mayo seems like a red flag, but it turns out that the bread is better digested with some fats than not. I'm probably pushing the definitions here a little, but not a lot.
I snacked on some almonds in the afternoon, plus water and diet soda.
Dinner, um, took a turn when I realized that Ish was taking me out for my Birthday Dinner to a lovely Italian restaurant, and I'd have to "officially" re-start the diet on Thursday. Ahem.
The almond cake was delicious!
Thursday: Day One, Part Two
Same breakfast as Wednesday.
When I eat a lot at night, I discover I'm not very hungry in the mornings. As my eating habits change, so will my appetite.
For lunch, a coworker suggested we go to a Chinese restaurant. I accepted. I was relieved to see that brown rice was an option. I ordered "almond chicken" with brown rice. I only ate half and took the rest home with me.
I only cheated by eating some of those crunchy fried noodle things on the table, but I am still transitioning, and only human.
Snacks of almonds, some water, crystal light, diet soda in the afternoon.
Dinner: Indian! Yay! I order Chicken Tikka Masala (spicy tomato cream sauce and chicken) with Rotee (which is like naan, but whole grain).
It's a little indulgent, but I think okay in moderation.
Later that night, I was a little hungry, and unfortunately I had a plastic tub of chocolate almond bark that someone had given me for my birthday. I had a small piece of it, and while eating it I decided to look at the nutritional information. Upon realizing my small enjoyment was a whopping 220 calories, I threw the whole remainder of the tub down the garbage chute.
Drastic times, drastic measures.
I had one glass of wine.
Friday was better.
I was hungrier earlier. I still didn't really have breakfast, but I ate my lunch around 11 a.m. (the second half of my almond chicken and brown rice). I snacked on almonds later. And then for dinner...
...well, you know? I really wanted veggie sushi. So that's what I got. I figured the white rice (very NON-SBD approved) would be canceled out by the fact that everything else was super-healthy and, ferchrissakes, I was selecting a dinner of vegetables and rice and broth for dinner!
[Oh my god. Is this the most boringest entry ever? Sorry. I'm just trying to feel accountable.]Anyway, that was it. I ate my veggie sushi and had a small cocktail (sugar-free) and was done by 7. I had some Crystal Light and some water after that, but nothing else.
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Now it's Saturday morning and I'm sitting in Starbucks (surrounded by the thinnest women in San Francisco, apparently). I ate their "fruit salad with strawberries" for breakfast and am sipping my grande drip.
I feel good. I feel like I'm on the right path. Um, you know, all both days I've been ON a path. But whatever. You gotta start (and start, and start, and start) somewhere. I mean, what's the alternative? Giving up?
I will try and try and try until something works. I will modify plans and do what makes the most sense. I will give myself leeway -- less and less and less -- until I don't need to because I've started to see results and that inspires me to work harder, and so on. I get into a cycle, and finally it's a positive one.
(Oh hey! Um, that was supposed to be the point of this whole post before I let myself get long-winded and boring about everything I said I'd never write.)
It's that life is like that. Life is about reading one person's plan and thinking it makes a lot of sense and trying it on and seeing if it works. And then it does work, sort of a little bit. But, no, not completely. So you take the parts you like and you move on to a different plan. And you find that the new plan doesn't totally fit either, but some elements of this one mixed with the elements of that one could work okay. And you go on, repeating this process until one day you realize you're following such a mishmash of modified plan-parts that -- hey -- you can safely call it your own.
And that? That feels a whole lot like success.