My Journey in Pounds

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Eating, the larger half of the equation

I confess here is my weakness. Because I love to eat. I could totally qualify for a T-Shirt that says, "I run so I can eat more".  I love tasting food.

And I'm a carb-aholic.  Seriously, I can eat a bowl of rice (serving size is half a cup!). With bread and butter on the side. I don't need chocolate or donuts, but I can't say no to carbs.

Or at least, I couldn't. I've learned to budget my eating better.

Enter "My Fitness Pal". I've used it to log everything I eat.  And when in doubt, I measure everything I put on my plate by tablespoons, half cups, or full cups.  Or slices. I try to be as accurate as possible.

The truth is, we all only burn a number of calories a day.  We only need to eat a certain amount to keep our bodies operating.  The more we move, the more we need.  Food is fuel, much like gas to our gas cans.  However, I think the largest contributor to me being overweight and undernourished was that I wasn't operating with calories as if on a "cash only" basis; I was eating on credit.

We all love spending on credit. It's not very wise, but it helps us to spend money we haven't earned on things we desire right that moment, and then we worry about paying it off in the future.  Or we act like there's no limit and until the card says, "No!", we assume it's ok to keep going.  Being someone who at times has a hard time budgeting her finances, that's also how I ATE.

I never counted calories or thought about what I ate. I ate what I wanted when I wanted.  And when I felt like I ate too much, I just said, "Oh well. I'll just eat a little less tomorrow".  Unfortunately, eating with the same mentality as spending on credit means just as we'll get weighed down with debt that may take YEARS to pay off, we'll get weighed down with FAT and health issues that will take us just as long to slim down from.

I'm also a recovering emotional eater.  I felt a false sense of control being able to eat whatever, whenever, when it felt like the rest of my life was spinning out of control.

So after 21 Day Fix where I measured all my food, I was a little cranky. Four ounces of rice for the day as the only amount of carbs I was to have made me feel like I was rejecting my Hispanic identity.  We fill half our large plates with rice.  The other half with black beans. Top it off with shredded beef on top (about the size of a third of the plate) and some fried plantains (cuz we need our veggies!).  That was a meal!  Then we all seemed disappointed that a relative developed heart disease or diabetes somehow...

After the 21 Day Fix I just ate whatever I wanted.  But I logged it. So I put as much rice as I wanted into a measuring cup and then onto my plate.  As well as with everything else I ate.  This is when it hit me hard: I was habitually eating much more than my body was using.  And it was all sitting on my hips and on my joints.

The problem with eating like this is not just your waist size; it's the sluggishness, the caffeine addiction just to function from the food coma you want to go into mid-afternoon, the lack of strength or endurance, the irritability, the feeling like you may actually kill someone for a chocolate bar. All a very mental/emotional/physical unhealthy way to live. And very ungodly, I dare say.  I needed a coke more than I needed prayer or Jesus because Christianity, peace, faith, love, perseverance, and faithfulness went out the window if I wasn't meeting the demands of the sugar withdrawal.  It really put into perspective the phrase "their idols are their stomach"...

And the thing is, this is AFTER 21 Day Fix. This is AFTER starting my weight loss journey. And it's not that I was rebelling against the system, I just needed the eye opener to see how I got to this point in the first place.  And to see how that scale wasn't going to show me 20 lbs lighter in 2 weeks of working out.  And I desperately needed to see how every excruciating work out was completely useless if I didn't eat to support my body.

So I set up my caloric intake goal to be my BMR rate, and then I decided to spend each day like cash.  I don't get to roll-over calories to the next day either.  And I budget my day with the meals I want to eat.  It may be that I really want pancakes for breakfast. Which means I may have a grilled chicken salad for lunch and no rice with dinner.  I exercise to expand my daily allowance and I get to eat more through out the day.

It's not as miserable as it sounds either.  I've learned portion control - I can taste how good the rice is with only a half-cup serving. Really.  I realize I want to fill as much of my calories with as many healthy options as I can so that it's worth my meal and I am NOT HUNGRY. I can eat a donut in the morning, 1000 calories, and starve the whole day.  Or I can have fruit and yogurt in the morning, crackers for snack, salad for lunch, and a cup of coffee with milk for about that same amount of calories... and I've eaten about every 3 hours, and I'm not going hungry at all.  It's all about getting "the most bang for your buck".  I can eat to my heart's content when it comes to fruit and vegetables, and eat more often.  Once I mastered this - condemnation free and with JOY - I really saw the weight start to come off.

Eating this way makes me feel more active, I have more energy, I have a much better attitude too.  The kids enjoy my presence more.  I've managed the rheumatoid arthritis with minimum medication and I'm rarely achy.

And I feel less GUILTY. Less DEFEATED.  Because I don't deny myself of anything. I can take a piece of cheesecake or a pizza on Sunday.  Specially if I plan for these treats and eat real light my meals before and after.  Or even if I splurge and I go over my calorie budget one day, it's not a routine or a habit.  And I feel more control over my health and my appetite than I ever have before.  We have a group of friends that plan for "cheat days".  Mainly after church service.  We know what we want to cheat on.  We know we're going to walk 4 miles after the cheat. We also know that we're not going to eat that way all through out the week.  It makes food much more enjoyable when you are in control and not your cravings or your moods.

So this is what my diet, overall for the week, looks like:

And this is what my weight loss progression looks like:

As you can see, it's not a straight slope, and it won't be. But I don't worry too much about the number on the scale because I know I'm making the right choices to get myself there eventually.  I didn't gain 30+ lbs in less than a year, I may not lose it in less than a year either.  But progress is progress!  Wearing skinny jeans on my period is progress.  Running 5 consecutive minutes is progress.  Feeling full on a smaller, healthier meal is progress.  Turning away from the cookies because I didn't feel like it today is progress.  Victory!

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