Slow and Steady Wins the Race
I have struggled with my weight from childhood. In my adult life I have lost large amounts of weight at least three times and quickly gained it back. In June of 2020, I had a wake up call that started me on this journey toward health and weight loss. I wrote about it in the first post in this series, The Cookie Diary.
Over the last several months I have written one post a month to share the journey and my progress. I am not an expert, but am sharing my personal experience in the hopes that others will benefit. Although after the first month on my own, I have been following a specific program. I am not writing to promote that program or any other, because one size does not fit all.
I will say that I have learned a lot, and for the first time I feel that I can maintain the weight loss that I have worked so hard to achieve. I still think maintenance may be harder than the actual weight loss. However, this time around I have been pretty much eating normal foods, just less, and of course minus cake with frosting and cookies. I have continued for the most part on 1200 calories a day. I could eat cake with frosting, but that would eat up a large number of daily calories, so not doing that.
I have made slow and steady progress, much slower than some people would like. It is understandable to want to lose weight quickly, but I have averaged about 7 pounds a month. When I started back in June, it was not with the thought of losing as much as I have-45 pounds to date. I have taken this journey in 10 pound segments, the thought of losing 50 pounds or more would have been overwhelming. As of this writing, my final goal is only ten pounds away. Yay!
Stronger Than the Cookie?
After months of leaning on my daughter’s statement, “Mom! You are stronger than the cookie!” and months of focusing on healthier eating and intentional weight loss, I decided it was time, finally, to see if I was indeed “stronger than the cookie.” Not by eating them, but by making them and giving them away without eating any. One day it may be time to see if I can “eat just one.” But I am not ready to put myself through that challenge yet.
What was the challenge in making cookies for other people? Well, first, asking permission. I reached out to a friend and asked, “Do you mind if I make some cookies for the boys?” Another challenge, it may have been the first time in my life I made cookies to give away without sampling. Not one cookie, not one finger swipe of creamed butter and sugar crossed my lips. I wasn’t sure if I could do it.
I made two separate batches of cookies and did not eat any, but I was hungry while I was making them (I chose an alternate snack) and all the way through both batches I wasn’t sure I would succeed until the last crumb was swept away, the last bowl washed and dried.
Cakes are a little bit easier, one isn’t likely to take a slice of cake out of the middle and frosting glue it back together before giving it away! No, I would not do that with a cake really, just talking about human temptation here and the ability to overcome it.
Cake with lots of frosting is one of my favorite food groups. I would always make the sacrificial bid to have a corner piece of cake, or cake with frosting flowers. But I have made my favorite chocolate cake recipe for church suppers and funerals countless times, knowing there would be a serving spoon or two of frosting that didn’t need to go on the cake.
I have been an emotional eater for as long as I can remember. It has been one of the huge successes of my weight loss experience to stop using food for comfort and coping. Everyone’s life has stress, conflict and a host of problems. I am no exception. We were in the early days of COVID, we just didn’t realize it, when I began my journey to health. I am grateful to my coaches, my plan and my own resolve that I was able to negotiate the stresses without turning to food.
I have built in flexibility of my diet, but still keeping to 1200 calories a day, still slowly working my way toward my goal. But there were two days that caught my attention that I want to share.
Have a Plan in Place for Crisis Management
COVID hit our house, the first recognizable symptoms hit me on December 21st. I was very fortunate, in that my symptoms were mild, and in the beginning my husband’s were too. It certainly took the Merry out of Christmas, although our plans were modest. We bemoaned the fact that COVID ruined our vacation as we cancelled our reservations, but we thought we were just okay.
But then COVID really hit him and most of his underlying health issues. Less than twenty-four hours after his symptoms kicked in, I called the ambulance. Actually the doctor’s office did that for me. The Emergency Room discharged him that evening. I picked him up, he had something light to eat and went to sleep. Everything went downhill from there.
When I made the second ambulance call a few days later, the look on his face as they loaded him into the ambulance all but broke me; I hugged the doorjamb as I watched the ambulance take him to the hospital. And I did not just cry, I howled and of course I prayed. I decided that I was going to have ice cream for dessert, just a Dixie cup. I don’t think I used the words, “I deserve it, I need it, or this will make me feel better.” It was a deliberate choice of comfort food.
I know that doesn’t make me a bad or careless person, I am just sharing. They admitted him and I went to church the next day to do the service, because I hadn’t thought to ask for backup. After church I had a fast food lunch, carefully chosen, because I had to come home and get his glasses and dentures and take them to the hospital.
On the way home from the hospital I realized I was tired and very hungry and I got coffee and a toasted, buttery bagel from Duncan. It was delicious! That day I was definitely over my 1200 calories, but compromised by having scrambled eggs for supper.
The next day I was ravenous, and that is when I knew it was stress and not genuine hunger. It was okay. It was reasonable. But all of the weeks and months of work, this was the hardest, and caught me by surprise.
Let me interrupt myself to say, that thankfully, my husband is home and recovering. I try to keep personal details of other family members to a minimum.
I share this story to say, have a crisis plan. Have some alternate choices, rely on your skills and knowledge and give yourself some grace. It is possible to get through a crisis without a weight gain, maybe not as realistic to expect to lose weight during a crisis, unless you are someone who cannot eat when things are going badly. I am 70 years old and that has only happened to me twice in my life and both times it was before 1971.
Something happened this afternoon, that sent me back to this post, that I wasn’t sure if I was going to share the post or delete it. I understand how easy it is to regain weight. Friends brought us some delicious food as a gift, and I may get away without cooking for the next four meals. But there were sweet, mini cornbread loaves included.
When it was snack time, I meant to reach for the string cheese, or an apple, but it was quicker grab the mini-loaf. In my defense, I cut it in half, so 120 calories instead of 240. I cut the half in half, thinking, I can do this a 60 calorie snack. It was sweet. It was an appetizer, I ate the other piece. That is how it can start.
So, a few suggestions before closing. If you are thinking of starting a weight loss program, research it well, talk to friends who have used the programs you are looking at, talk to your doctor.
Avoid fad diets.
Learn the difference between nutrient dense foods and foods with empty calories. I love donuts and there was a time in my life I could make a breakfast of three (yup) on my way to work. Empty. Calories.
Do your best to keep a wide variety of “go to” snack foods. If you are going shopping, and going to be out several hours, consider packing a bag lunch. It is hard to find a filling fast food sandwich that is under 500 calories.
Phone a Friend: This option can be helpful in a variety of situations. Know who will support your efforts and who is likely to try to sabotage them. I have been blessed with support from family and friends and many friends in the blogging community, in addition to my program coaches and my family doctor.
Have a plan and stick to it but on the days that you get overwhelmed, and go off your program, forgive yourself and get back on board, the next meal if possible.
One additional thought, that I know is going to continue to be important for me, and it may help you. Distinguish between special treats and daily snacks. There was a time I ate unmeasured ice cream every night until it was gone. That was how I got rid of it.
My cornbread mini-loaf half was a wake up call. I am close to my goal, I am stronger than the cookie, but very human and today the cornbread was stronger than me. Not because I ate the pieces I did, but because the taste of them makes me want more. But I will not.
Not holding back the tide,
Copyright 2021 Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles and https://msomervillesite.WordPress.com
Linking up with Esme’s Senior Salon and Everyday Gyann’s #Monday Musings