Saturday, February 18, 2012

Progress Report

I rarely do progress reports anymore because I'm not as concerned with progress in general. Yes, I still would like to lose more weight, but I know that I'm at a stage at which losing more weight is less important than continuing to tweak psychological issues with food. I'm in transition from what could be called "dieting" to "living normally with food." To that end, several weeks ago, I abandoned all food logging and calorie counting. It is progress along those lines that I'm going to talk about.

When I first gave up the counting, I often had a vague sense of "overeating" or feeling like I didn't know how much I was eating. Since I'd already slacked on logging a full days intake, this wasn't particularly acute. My main concern was that I'd slowly slip back into old habits and regain, not that I wouldn't lose. Again, I'd like to lose more, but in this transition phase, I'm more concerned with being able to feed myself at a maintenance level without tracking calories or food. Once I have this ability down, then I can attend more concretely to further loss of body fat.

Over the last several weeks, I can't say that I've markedly eaten differently, but I have noticed some bad habits that I had even when I was calorie counting and feel that I need to get rid of those. The  main problem is too much freestyle "grazing". This is something I had been working with before, but only in certain situations. That is, I was still comforting myself with food, but doing so with small portions such that I didn't impact weight gain or loss. I have been working effectively on not doing this because I'm tired, stressed, or anxious, but I have not been doing so well with it when I'm incidentally hungry.

What I mean by that that last part is that I will feel slightly hungry at times and decide to eat things rather than wait and eat in a consolidated manner. I well know from experience that eating when slightly hungry was a huge reason why I gained so much weight. I never knew true hunger because I never allowed my body to get there. I became incapable of tolerating true hunger because I never built up a tolerance. My incidental eating was something I saw as a road back to that sort of thing and I decided that I need to "tighten up" how I deal with food.

My approach as of yesterday was to eat incidentally if I wanted to (or "needed to"), but to make sure that I fully acknowledged the experience by plating everything I ate and carrying it to another place. There will be no more standing in the kitchen eating a piece of chocolate, a rice cracker, a few mini pretzels and a bit or two of cheese. If it isn't on a plate, I don't eat it, at least if I'm at home when I'm eating. 

I think that this grazing wasn't necessarily a slippery slope, though I acknowledge that it could have been. Mainly, I think that it would ultimately impede further weight loss. I weighed myself today and I remain at 80 kg. (176 lbs.) which is where I've been for awhile. I was actually pretty pleased with this as I hadn't gained any weight for my sloppy habits. Frankly, I have felt that I've been eating too much, particularly too many empty calories, and was concerned that I might end up gaining because of it. Fortunately, I did not, but clearly it's time to move on to some better habits. 

Yesterday, I ate five times. That was breakfast, lunch, dinner, tea time, and a later evening snack. I plated post-lunch tiny pieces of chocolate and a few cookies as well as dessert after dinner (half a small chocolate chip cupcake and strawberries). The late night snack was fruit, but I feel it was slightly indulgent. A lot of my extra eating since stopping strict counting has been eating after dinner and I know it's not absolutely necessary. It's just laziness about not putting up with being a little hungry at bedtime. Still, it's not that big a deal either, especially on the first day of tightening up my habits.

I want to write about these things more than I do, not because I believe such  mechanistic processes are so interesting, but because I want readers to know I'm not perfect and I still have work to do as well. It's not easy, though it's absolutely nowhere near as hard as it used to be. I don't know if I'll be struggling with this for the rest of my life, but I'm prepared for the possibility that I might have to. It's tiring.  It gets old, but looking back at pictures of me at my higher weight, I think it's absolutely worth it. 


Human In Progress said...

There isn't much out there about maintenance or "tightening up habits" after most of one's excess weight has already been shed, so as usual, this is informative.

I have a question for you. I binged on Valentine's Day and since then have decided to work on eating and enjoying a small treat every day, much like you describe doing in your blog. I think it will help with the restriction/overeating cycle I was starting to engage in (was still engaging in? not sure).

I don't know how long I'm going to do this. The problem is, my mind is already whining about "NEVER getting to have" a big piece of cake or whatever. I probably just need to give it time: after considering a pint of ice cream to be a single serving for years and years, one scoop is bound to look paltry.

Nevertheless, I am curious: do you ever eat a sizable dessert? Did you ever do so while working actively at weight loss? Was there any particular way you convinced yourself that for the most part, "less is more" when it comes to dessert?

Neither rational thought (e.g. "it doesn't taste as good after the third or fifth bite anyway") nor Buddhist-style detachment is solving this quandary for me at the moment. Any thoughts?

screaming fatgirl said...

I wrote out an answer to this, but it was so involved that Blogger wouldn't allow it. ;-)

I'm going to answer in a post. Thanks so much for asking!