Making It Up As I Go

So right then. I started Weight Watchers' points system and was successful for about, oh, 3 hours.

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.

* * * * * *

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.

* * * * * *
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.
See how good and reasonable that all is?

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.
  1. Opt for things like gin and soda (there's sugar in tonic) or rum and diet coke.
  2. Remember, margaritas are delicious...and can be 500 calories a pop! (yeah, hi. 500! NO MARGARITAS FOR ME!)
  3. No beer. Period. Not even light.
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).

* * * * * *

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.

* * * * * *

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.


  1. K,
    I started back on Weight Watchers 4 weeks ago. I looked over the 2 plans they offer (the "Core" plan and the "FlexPoints" plan) and decided the Flex plan works best for me. But the Core plan sounds a lot like an Atkins or South Beach type to me, and a lot of people in my meeting group prefer it and have gotten very good results with it.

    So far have lost 6 pounds using the Flex plan, and feel pretty good about it - - especially the fact that my clothes are actually starting to fit again! :-)

    Good luck with your weight loss, K. You can do it, girl! :-)

  2. that IS a whole lot of success.

    it's funny, i'm in the same sort of transitioning stage myself right now, so yay us!

    good luck. we're all cheering you on!

  3. OK..if I were my dad (and I AM my father's daughter) I would immediately go into an explanation of the SUGAR-BUSTERS DIET which , by my dad's account has saved his life. Once he was diagnosed diabetic he immediately changed his eating habits to conform with said diet. A couple years later he is still controlling his diabetes with diet and (ugh) exercise. I mention this only because the DIET is very similiar to Atkins and SBD but according to dad less-restrictive. Anyway, a skim thru the info on the SUGAR-BUSTER'S DIET may prove helpful and or informational. (One thing I learned from dad is that "potatoes are evil" and basically worse than a bowl of ice cream...who knew?)Anyways, love the blog...keep up the great work!

  4. oh yes, anon -- they're all very similar principles: keep the insulin in check.

    SBD also says that potatoes are worse than a bowl of ice cream, and that almost makes me weep.

    but then i think, really? REALLY? i would select stupid dumb POTATOES over feeling and looking great every day? THAT is problematic.

    so we wave good-bye to potatoes and usher in a new day of mashed cauliflower.

    p.s. Jen pointed out that the "studies" on beer = bad were disproven, and even the SBD guy said so. good to know.

  5. i for one am completely supportive of you using the blog to discuss what you've eaten (and how you were feeling at the time), especially if it makes you feel accountable.

    accountability is sometimes the only thing that keeps me headed in the direction i know i want to go (despite my frequent desires to digress!)

    almonds are wonderful for you. i lost about 30 lbs one year by doing a modified Zone type thing a few years ago: my fave lunch was salad with vegies, sliced ham, sliced low-fat mozzarella sticks and chopped almonds on top.

    >>But it only takes one time to succeed, you know?

    I think this will be my new mantra :-)

    go, kiki, go!

  6. I'm determined to lose weight, too. I've gone so far as to post my weight on my blog, which I'll do every Monday. The idea is that maybe I can shame myself into losing weight. I don't know if it will work. I do know that calorie counting works for me. The last time I tried it, I lost 20 pounds. Unfortunately, I didn't pair that with exercise, and I stopped counting calories and started "estimating" them with rather more imagination than accuracy. Back came all that fat I'd lost, and it brought friends.

  7. K, I just joined a gym. So far so good. I'm by far the fattest one there (hey, it's LA), but I actually get some approving nods from people, which is cool. Now if I could just rid myself of the need for approving nods....

    Carry on.

  8. My little trick...I've been ordering Chirashi when I'm jonesing for sushi (which is about every other day). The fish is on top of the rice. I find that I eat just a bit with each piece of sashimi and feel like I end up eating a lot less of the white stuff than when I order rolls.

  9. I've got hypoglycemia and basically have to follow SBD/Zone in order to well, function...

    One thing I noted from your posted food journal is that, specifically with the veggie sushi, was that you lacked a protein with that meal. One thing I've learned is that I *have* to have a protein with every meal to keep my blood sugar in check. If I eat too many carbs, I produce too much insulin. And eating too many carbs in the past was what stopped me from losing weight despite working out like a crazy person. Since switching my diet around, I've dropped 15 lbs (albeit very slowly). I'd lose more if I were to give up beer (I do limit myself to 2 per night and only do this 1-2x a week). Of course, that's easier said than done...

    Just something to think about. I've got a stash of protein bars (Clif makes good ones), nuts, and 2% cheese sticks around as quickie sources of protein.

  10. Weight Watchers absolutely is calorie counting ... they just fool you by giving the calories a different name ... points. If you try to accept it as a way of life, however, and accept that they let you eat just about anything you want if you count it, it's not bad. I lost 100 lbs. using the WW diet on my own. Two suggestions that might help: try eating at home once in a while and add some kind of exercise, even if it's just walking. Good luck. I have more to lose, so I'm with yah! (Great blog, by the way)

  11. "the sugars used in the beer-making process are super-bad for us: that is, they get stored as fat immediately."

    The calories in beer mostly come from the alcohol itself. Most of the sugars in beer are consumed by the yeast during fermentation to create the alcohol.

    In the liver, enzymes convert alcohol into fats. However, studies have consistently shown there are significant cardiovascular benefits to moderate drinking (no more than 1-2 drinks per day, especially red wine). So keep your wine glasses and beer mugs and don't feel bad about having a drink with dinner.

  12. I'mma be completely evangelical here. I just lost ~50 lbs doing Body for Life for 12-ish weeks.

    a) You don't count calories, you work off portion sizes, which are actually made clear in the program
    b) You get to eat six times a day, which means you are NEVER EVER hungry in the first week, which is where I usually screw up by feeling all deprived. You do get hungry after week 1 but I'll get to why in the Minuses. :)
    c) You get one free day a week to eat WHATEVER you want. And I mean WHATEVER you want. If you want to eat 10 slices of pizza plus 72 big macs, then you can do that. The "free day" is so you save up all your cravings for your free day & eat them then, and also to "trick" your body into not going into starvation mode.
    d) The food is good. I have the cookbook and it is full of really delicious and easy-to-throw-together stuff. It is amazing and you can make it as easy or as complex as you want it.
    f) Your metabolism will be permanently kickstarted. I haven't done jack or shitsky for around six months in terms of keeping up with eating/working out, and I haven't gained anything. In fact, I steadily continued to lose for about 2 months after my schedule got hosed.
    e) Each "round" of BFL lasts for 12 weeks. You can choose whether or not to continue, and even if you go at it all half-assed, you will see DRAMATIC results because....

    a) It is a LOT of hard work. For 12 weeks I sometimes forgot what it was like not to be in pain. The workouts are intense, but if you're starting off
    at a low fitness level, it doesn't take much to work off a lot of weight.
    b) You get HUNGRY after the first week. RAVENOUS. Because you're working out so hard. But again with the results!
    c) It's hard on the social life. Or at least it was, for me, because ain't no WAY I am getting up at 6am to work out. So I did it after work and sometimes that means not eating dinner until 10pm, and not going out with friends.
    d) No booze except for one glass of wine for dinner (all you can drink on your free day)

    With all that said, I lost 50lbs, gained 5lbs of muscle, went down six clothing sizes, and I am ridiculously strong now, even months after my last round. I'm planning on starting a new one on Monday.

    It is probably not for everyone (especially the hardcore workouts) but the eating thing makes so much sense to me and doesn't make me feel neurotic/crazy/guilty with the calorie counting.

    If you have any questions feel free to ask me as this is the ONLY thing I've ever had any success with and I'm thrilled about it.

  13. You go girl! I was totally NOT bored. I've been doing WW and counting points for over a year now and it is nice to see some fresh ideas and to not feel so alone with my fat... lol.

  14. Ericha2@comcast.net10:06 AM, July 10, 2006

    I've told you about my success with Curves before but to refresh, I've been on the program since January so this is the beginning of my 7th month. I have lost approx. 30 lbs. although last month I did gain a few lbs. back due to lack of will power and motivation. I am back on the program now though and am finding it easier to stick with again after a short hiatus. The workouts aren't extremely difficult but you can up the difficulty level if wanted. I have also lost in the vicinity of 20 inches total since starting. Now, at my size (starting weight was 323) even when you drop that kind of weight it's still not much. I've only dropped one pant size and am still in the same top size. However, things fit differently and my body is more toned. This is for me, as for so many of us, a life-long fight. It took 30 years to get this way...I know it's going to take time to reach my ultimate goal, which is to be in a size 12 by my wedding. That gives me about a year and a half to drop 6 dress sizes. I think it's pretty realistic.

    Anyway, enough about me...this is your blog and I just wanted to say, Congratulations for starting again and keep up the good work! We're all here because we care and want to be kept informed of your successes and setbacks in all aspects of your life.

  15. Don’t worry about boring me with this stuff. I’ve been known to hang out at the forums at and read stuff like this for hours on end.

    The problem for me with “plans” is they are someone else’s plan, and losing weight is so individual. I also like the idea of trying bits and pieces of different plans and sticking with what works. And cutting yourself slack, falling off the wagon, and getting on over and over again. So far I have found Body for Life for Women by Dr. Pam Peeke and Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman most fitting for me. And once I gave myself permission to not do exercise I hate, i.e. running or anything resembling running, I found I really enjoy yoga and training with free weights and pilates and I’ve found my way back to the pool. And I don’t avoid the gym like the plague.

    I lost about 30 lbs between Oct of last year and April. Good news: I’ve been able to pretty easily maintain that loss drinking as much beer as I want. Bad news: I have at least 30 more lbs to lose and the scale hasn’t budged in about 3 months. *sigh*

    Good luck to you K! Keep trying till it works.

  16. I can understand why you wouldn't be into Weight Watchers. I put off going there for a long time too, and that was my inital reaction too - that counting calories was sort of obvious and I didn't really need a "program" for that. Plus I wasn't exactly thrilled about having to make time for a bunch of cheesy meetings. But one month and 17 pounds later, I'm really glad I did it anyway. The meetings (and being weighed by someone else) really do help me stay on track. And in a lot of ways, I find WW is actually much *more* flexible than any other diet I've tried, SB included, because you can literally eat ANYTHING. Of course, it's better for your body if you stick to healthier food most of the time (I loosely follow the SB rules), but I love that I can occasionally splurge on my favorite chocolate ice cream or a beer and it's really not cheating. Anyway, I just wanted to put in a good word for WW because I'm such a convert, but I totally agree with you that everyone has to find the plan that works for them & wish you lots of luck.

  17. See, K, here's my problem. You hear that potatoes are worse than ice cream and think "who would choose potatoes over feeling and looking great everyday?"

    I hear that and think, "COOL! I'll have ice cream instead!"

    And you do know that fries are made out of potatoes?

    And this is why I can't fit into my clothes. Which fact I hate.

    Perhaps an attitude adjustment is in order. I will look to you for inspiration. And I agree with Risey P (who I enjoyed meeting very much at your party the other night), this is a great use of your blog!

  18. Wow. Written like a true pro. You've done your research and tested your theories. Surely these diets don't work as well without working out though right? Otherwise, our metabolism continues to slow down anyway.


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