Thursday, November 29, 2007

Miracle tool?

According to the American Medical Association and American Dietitians Association, what's the (supposedly) most fundamental and useful weight loss tool? People who use this tool lose more weight and keep the weight off better than those who don't. Many successful weight loss programs, such as Weight Watchers and the Zone, use this tool. Yet, most people don't use this tool, even though it requires almost no expense.

What's this miracle tool?

A food diary.

Yep, that's right. A food diary. One in which you list every single thing you've eaten or drunk each day.

My diabetes nurse suggested that I keep a food diary to record all foods and drinks that I consume for a two-week period. Then we can look at what foods I can eliminate in my quest for a healthier weight.

My diabetes dietitian said, "I strongly suggest this to everyone, but few people do it. They won't take the extra few minutes after each meal and snack to record what they ate." She said that people are often unaware of how much they really eat, and a food diary is an excellent way to discover this. She has found that people who do keep a diary are more likely to lose weight and keep it off. "They become mindful of what they are eating," she said. "Then they can choose to make better choices or eliminate useful calories."

Because I've been ill and haven't eaten much of anything other than chicken broth and rice -- and you can trust me when I say that's nowhere typical for me -- I haven't started my diary yet. My plan is to start it on Sunday. I've already purchased a sturdy, cheap notebook at Staples (three for $1) to use as my diary.

After I record for a couple of weeks, the dietitian said I should be able to start identifying foods that affect my blood sugar adversely (I will be recording my blood sugar counts in it, also). She also said that I will probably be horrified by the amount of food that I eat without being aware.

Does anyone out there use a food diary? And if not, would you like to join me in using one? I think it has a lot of potential to help us reach healthy weights.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Comments on Sneaky Tricks

Some of the tricks they mentioned that have worked for me have been eating more salads and soups & adding more fruits and veggies to my regular food choices. I liked the idea of adding only one extra serving at a time. I think it's easier to stick with it if you don't make large, drastic changes. You hardly notice one small change, but after you've made several of them, they can add up to big results.

I also am a fan of "grazing"--eating more frequent, smaller meals. I've lost the most weight when I've eaten that way. Sometimes it's hard, though, because I have an irregular schedule. I've been caught needing food, but not having any. Then when I can eat again, I'm super hungry and I overeat. So I have to plan carefully to do that.

I've been noticing lately that I tend to eat exactly what I put on my plate. So, my latest trick for portion control is smaller plates. I don't usually go back for seconds, so I do eat less because I can't fit as much food on a smaller plate. Or maybe the same amount looks like more. I don't know. This is the one childhood habit I can't seem to break--eating everything on my plate. My mom chose the amount we were going to eat by serving us. And she expected us to eat it all. I can't seem to break that habit, so I'm trying to start off with less food.

Walking is a biggie with me. I'm still walking my three miles, five days a week. We've been reorganizing our kitchen, now that we have a good step stool. Paul moved the higher shelves down a bit, but I still have to climb up the step stool. Climbing the step stool and bending down to get the stuff out of the lower cupboards is giving me an unexpected boost in exercise. I've been cooking the last of the three Thanksgiving meals we're eating this year and have noticed that I'm getting a lot of exercise in my tiny kitchen. Surprising!

Increasing fiber is the last thing I've been doing lately. And the last one in the article I've had experience with. That has been successful for me in the past. I'm increasing the fiber in what I bake. I purchased the King Arthur Flour Whole-Grain baking cookbook for my birthday. I'm going to experiment with adding more whole grains to my baking, since I love to bake.

The one other thing I need to get back to is getting at least eight glasses of water. I keep forgetting to take it with me and get behind. I notice that when I don't drink it all my ankles and hands will swell up a bit from the extra water my body holds. Plus, it's super important to drink enough water when you eat more fiber.

You can see why I decided to write a post, rather than just comment on the article. I had a lot to say. Good article. Very thought-provoking.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sneaky Little Slimdown Tips

CNN's Fit Nation has a list of sneaky ways to help us achieve our goals today.

I know for a fact several of these will work. For instance, am I the only person who chooses to drink a diet soft drink because it "goes better with the chips" I want to eat, and if I drink a water, I won't feel like eating the chips?

Is this insane, or what? It's certainly self-defeating, yet I can clearly remember thinking exactly that when I'm making a decision about what to drink.

I especially want to give an honest effort to the visualization technique. I have used that successfully for other things in the past, and I believe it's very powerful.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tell Me Something I Don't Know


CHICAGO - Emotional eaters -- people who eat when they are lonely or blue -- tend to lose the least amount of weight and have the hardest time keeping it off, U.S. researchers said.

They said the study may explain why so many people who lose weight gain it all back.

For this article to be truly helpful, they should have used some of the grant money to research what will HELP emotional eaters.

If you're an emotional eater, what do you to help yourself?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I couldn't vote

In the television watching poll, I couldn't vote because there wasn't a "I don't watch TV" option.

I will admit, it is getting a little harder after five months to continue without TV. At first I was too busy and not interested in getting cable and messing with all the stuff necessary to get TV up and running. Plus I was going through a real cheapskate phase. Maybe I haven't outgrown that yet.

I've also gotten re-hooked on my passion for reading and would rather spend time with a good book or two or three at a time.

There just hasn't been a lot of spare time for many of the things I enjoyed in my former lifestyle. I haven't watched TV, or knitted, or napped. I do walk every day, and I read, and I am active in community events and in covering local politics.

Overall I would say these are beneficial changes, but now that it is turning colder, I do wish I could veg out on the couch on a Saturday night with the clicker.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Building to a Crescendo

I've got to get hold of myself! I've been on such a roller coaster lately. I can't seem to stick with eating right for more than 2/3 of the day. I do great all day and then, BAM! The evening hits and I'm off.

I'm going to try Tech's technique of Slim Fast. Hopefully not only will I get a jump start, but break the cycle as well.

My doctor offered to write a prescription for diet pills, and I'm seriously considering it. I have an appointment with her next week, so I've got until then to make up my mind.

Sigh, sigh, sigh.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Slim Fast report

It's going okay. I've lost five pounds on it. Not as fast as I used to lose weight on it, but I suspect the problem is that I'm having to snack a bit to keep my carbs up enough to satisfy the diabetes. (I'm supposed to have 60 carbs per meal and 15 carbs per snack. One original Slim-Fast has 40 carbs.)

I spoke to my doctor about Slim Fast, and he didn't know of any reason that I shouldn't use it, but cautioned me about letting my blood sugar crash and suggested that I increase my testing and watch my counts carefully. He was worried about it going too low. So I have been testing a half hour after each Slim Fast.

I did some research on the Net and found a couple of stories about people who went on Slim Fast and let their blood sugar crash. At least one nearly died. I'm being very careful. So far, so good.

It's important that I break this "lock" that my weight loss seems to be in. I will tell you that I'm struggling with the Slim Fast. I'm not hungry, not really, but I do crave unhealthy food -- and let me tell you, munching on a carrot stick does nothing to shut off a craving.

I read Mama Rose's post yesterday and identified with those people. I have certainly battled despair while trying to lose weight, and food really does bring me up. I have also looked at my size and felt hopeless. In fact, I've been going through a hopeless period for a while now. Thus my decision to attempt Slim Fast.

You'd think that losing five pounds would boost my mood, but you'd be wrong. I am obese, and five pounds is literally a drop in the bucket. When I consider how I've struggled this week with cravings, I find myself doubting that I can deny myself the foods I love in the amounts I desire for the years necessary for me to lose weight.

Of course, there a lot of weapons to use in the fight against fat, and obviously I'm still in the fight -- perhaps not gaining much ground -- but I haven't given up, either. I intend to win one way or another.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Addicted to Food?

I saw an interesting program on The Learning Channel last night. It was about 4 people who are truly food addicts. I learned a lot I didn't know from their stories. I learned what it means to be a food addict, and I learned I'm not one. That, at least, isn't my problem.

What these people said is that they can't stop eating. They get a "high" or "feel euphoric" after they've eaten. And it goes away, so they eat more. The people doing the show put on a table in front of each of them the foods they ate in one day. The foods were all high-fat, junk foods. The only veggies were french fries and chips. One woman ate something like 41 chocolate bars as snacks. One other woman ate enough M&Ms to add up to 3,000 calories. Their daily calorie totals ranged from a low of 9,000 to a high of 36,000. And that's for ONE day's food count. The two men couldn't get out of bed. The two women couldn't leave their houses. I don't know how these people afforded their food habits. They were spending hundreds of dollars a day on food. The people around them provided the food because if they didn't, the person would just order take-out.

This show had one flaw in that the way they presented the video of the people was done an a way that subtly suggested they were disgusting. I would have preferred if they'd done it in a way that showed some compassion for their situations. The scientist talking about the issue was very clear that there are a lot of factors in this and solving it isn't easy. Unlike other addictions, you can't totally give up food. They offered one man surgery to reduce the size of his stomach, but he has to lose over 100 pounds before they can do it. He made a rule list for the caregivers that stated what they were not to do, no matter what, because he said he'd try to manipulate them into giving him more food than he was supposed to eat. The chicken salad he was eating in his attempt to lose was the only healthy food on the program.

This show made my heart break a bit because our society insists on blaming people who are overweight, fat, whatever adjective fits the person. But we expect people to meet unrealistic weight requirements, too. So people who really aren't overweight get called overweight because we're constantly being fed the media image of "perfection". While I don't think any of us are buying into that ideal for ourselves, I also wonder if we don't think of ourselves as being worse than we really are--maybe even think we're like these 365-over 800-lb. people--just because we aren't ever thin "enough".

I guess what this really did was put things into perspective. It made me see that the successes I've had in the past can give me hope for the future. It made me appreciate that I'm healthy. I can exercise. I can live a normal life. These people can't do the baby steps that help us reach our goals because their lives are directly threatened. On the other hand, they're so discouraged by what they do and what they see in the mirror and their restricted lives that they don't believe they can change anything. What I got from that, again, is hope. I can change things. My life is full of things other than food. For these people, food IS their life. It was sad to watch. I know I can't help them, but I can help myself. And I can help all of you by lending my support in you all reaching your goals. It's worth the fight we all make with ourselves every day to keep ourselves healthy.