I am not typically a countdown person, so I can tell you when I met my weight loss goal, May 9, 2021, but not how many days it has been. The numbers I pay attention to most, are the amount of calories I eat on any given day, and the numbers on the scale. To some people, that may sound obsessive, but for me it is an important measure of health. I was going to say success. I am happy to say that so far, my weight has fluctuated up and down by degrees, but consistently two to three pounds below my goal.
In the past when I reached a weight loss goal, I stopped counting; but I also started gaining. The biggest thing I am trying to permanently keep out of my daily intake is frosting. I have a recipe for carrot cake that I use as muffins (From the book “Eat Cake” by Jeannie Ray) and I think frosting would cover up the delicate taste of honey. So while I am skipping frosting, occasional sweet, moist muffins are a welcome treat.
Some days I do better than others. I average between 1400-1500 calories a day. There are some days I am genuinely hungry and maybe not eating enough, but it is probably also on those days when I am not balancing enough fruit and veggies with my carbs. Most days I have eaten enough to feel satisfied but not stuffed.
What I am trying to say is that my weight loss journey is not a done deal. Maintaining a weight loss may be harder than loosing the weight in the first place, but many of the same strategies are what is keeping me healthy. There are some things I am still not doing that I should be doing, like walking enough or drinking enough water. But, I surprised myself the other day by mindlessly putting down my sandwich between bites! Progress! Yay!
Paying attention to cues, especially temptations or cravings is important. One thing I have learned in recent weeks, especially since I started baking again, is when I am feeling hungry, it is most often for carbs. Candy, cakes and cookies are not the problem they once were, snacks with frosting on top or creamy frosting inside, don’t lure me either. But Bagels and muffins whisper in my ear. Every day. It is okay, because I weigh, log or otherwise count everything, and continue to be intentional about fruits and vegetables. I will always have to be careful, but admit that I feel very vulnerable in these early weeks. It is a period of time where it could be easy to become careless.
A new tool in my tool belt. I realize on some of those days when the cravings are strong, or on days when I have not made the best choices possible that I need to think them through carefully. So I have added a short narrative section in the back of my “everything” notebook. I do not write it in every day, but on those days when I feel that I could have done better, I do a brief summary, what was going on, what I could have done better, what I was feeling.
Another form of documentation that has been important. I have been able to use a free version of the log app from my weight loss program. Some days though, it does not work; when that happens, I resort to old fashioned tracking systems; pen and paper. I cannot keep track of 1500 calories in my head – I get to 13 and have to start over. Accountability is not a four letter word. I have said on more than one occasion, my practices may seem extreme, but 60 plus years of bad eating habits, do not just go away.
That said let me share with you one of the wonderful gifts I have been enjoying. I began baking as a coping mechanism, at an early age. Once I was old enough to bake without supervision, turn the oven on and off, etc., and follow directions, I figured out that if I was upset, I could pour that energy into making a cake to give away. For the most part they were package mixes, but it was something to do and felt like an accomplishment. But I could also make a cake, ostensibly for the family, and slice away at it until it was gone.
This was a bad habit I carried into adulthood. Hurt my feelings? I’ll show you! I’ll make something… and then eat it. By then I had advanced to homemade treats. I made fudge for a friend’s mom for a gift when I was teenager and she liked it. I made the recipe ever since. Do you know the stuff that is left behind in the pan is so good! It didn’t go to waste, but it went to my waist.
I started baking in earnest as a young bride. I had learned to cook at home, but I would try almost anything if the cookbook had a picture that I could use as a model, or if the picture looked so good I had to have it, I mean, make it. And I did seriously use baking for gifts for family and friends, when I could not afford to buy gifts. Of course flours, sugars, butter and eggs were not free. But knowing that I felt compelled to bake presents for my in-laws, a friend from church gave me a box of flour, sugar, etc as a Christmas gift that made my gifts more affordable.
I still make homemade brownies, etc. The only time I reverted to package cake mixes was when I was in school and serving three churches. I would get the urge to bake, open the pantry door, look at the box of cake mix and declare it too much work, closed the door and went back to working on papers.
There is a lot more to my baking, eating and giving resume, but that is enough for you to get the idea. When I began my journey last June (2020), I knew that the only way I could be stronger than the cookie, was to not make or buy any cookies in the first place. I thought my baking days were over.
My husband often gives or sends me recipes on social media. Often, because he knows they are things I like to make, or that we might like to eat, and sometimes I think they are unabashed hints. I think that is cute. For whatever reason, one day in April he shared with me a recipe for homemade sourdough starter, a primitive recipe from a muzzleloader magazine. The short version of this story is that after tracking down compressed yeast, which is difficult to find here, I made the starter, and then the best bread I had made in a long time. I had to make it again.
But it was such a gift, because at this stage in my journey, I knew I was not going to tear into that bread and eat it up in two sittings. It was probably the best bread I had ever made. I used my self control to let it cool, then I sliced off an end piece, popped it into the toaster, and spread a thin layer of butter on the warm bread. From the first bite, I was hooked. The combination of the crunch of the crust, the soft bread, the butter melted into the bread, was worth savoring. Bite after bite. I do not know if this is true for all countries, but we call the end slices of store-bought bread “heels.” I think the end slice of homemade bread, toasted and buttered, deserves a much better name.
I have been baking my own bread ever since, and that is its own journey, that I hope to write about in a separate series of posts. But I write this here to celebrate, because I have learned that I can still bake for fun, for stress relief, for the sheer joy of baking, and not worry about undoing all this work. Baking is a joy that has been restored in my life and helped me through some rough days.
Not holding back the tide,
Copyright 2020-2024 Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles and https://msomervillesite.WordPress.com
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