Alternately titled: Yes, I ate a donut and I’m not so worried about it.
I’ve had a couple of people notice the weight difference in pictures now and ask me what I’m doing. I’ll tell you. Because I want you to know. I want you to be as free as I feel now.
I’ve talked some before about our current dieting trend. About how it’s not really about the numbers. But about true change. Which also makes it not so much about cheating or dieting even. Because really, if you’re not dieting then you can’t cheat. Yo? This is about change. Change your habits, change your thoughts, change your outcome. Change your life. Really. Finally. It is possible.
I am now living proof.
I, the chocolate chip connoisseur, I, the person who admitted on Facebook once that I ate 6 tacos consecutively. Yes, even I. And we talked about how I only had a little to lose in the first place. I know that. I’m 5’3″. Just 3 months ago I weighed around 145. Not that big of a deal, but in those numbers were contained the shame of the double chin that I hated. I saw it all the time in the rearview mirror, I tried to raise my head in my pictures, I tried to avoid seeing it and having it seen. I also had thick upper arms. I was ashamed to wear sleeveless shirts. It was just funky to me. And the stomach. Oh, the squishy hangy over my jeans stomach. I sucked in a lot. I hated how t-shirts looked on me, I wore maternity pants to avoid the flab.
Y’all, I did this for 16 years. I agonized over why I would eat so much and then feel yucky for too long afterward. I would eat handful after handful of chocolate chips. I would not stop. When I was stressed, when I was bored. When I was hungry. When I was full. And every moment in between. Once again, it wasn’t the number that counted so much as it was how I felt about myself. It was a cycle of destruction. But I really felt helpless. Like there were the unattainably skinny in the world and I just wasn’t one of them.
But, as I mentioned before my father-in-law began a journey four years ago that has changed my perception of weight loss. He lost an amazing amount of weight, like people don’t recognize him now. He did it by changing his diet and his mind. He didn’t go on some severe exercising regime. He didn’t buy into some fad diet. He just changed. He is more extreme still to this day than I am now, but I know my limits now.
Here’s what I did. After complaining and grumbling that I didn’t want to do what it took, I decided that I would approach this time differently. First of all, I didn’t set a number goal in my head. I didn’t even weigh at first. But I did set rules. I wouldn’t eat any chocolate. I wouldn’t eat any sweets or treats of any kind at first. Except my mom’s banana pudding at Easter. But here’s the deal, here’s why. I didn’t feel safe with myself to be tempted by something sweet. Because, like a true addict (think: alcoholic) I wasn’t sure if I could stop at just one. Just one serving size, just one helping, just one. I didn’t trust me. So I stayed clear of it all. I knew even then that some day I would come back to a candy bar occasionally or a piece of pizza or a restaurant burger. I knew I would get secure and confident one day. But I knew me well enough to know that I couldn’t at the beginning. I needed to “fast” in a way. I needed to rely on God in my stresses. I needed some successes.
So, I swore them off. It was hard, y’all. There were a couple of times I cried over a chocolate chip cookie or a mini candy bar. Seriously, cried. Just ask Matt and the kids. I can’t help it, I’m crazy. I mean really what would it have hurt? But once again, it was in the moment of weakness that I wanted them. I just wanted to crumble and eat them. It wasn’t a thought out decided moment like the banana pudding was. With the pudding I knew ahead of time that I would eat some. I clearly served myself one very small helping. I savored every bite. And then I didn’t go back for more. I was calm. It wasn’t a heat of the moment, weak decision. It was me in control of me. Therefore I felt good about it.
In watching my caloric intake (probably somewhere between 1200 and 1700 a day) and watching what kind of calories I’m taking in (3 ounces of lean steak as a snack vs. that candy bar) I have watched the weight fall away. And my confidence build. I am not a slave to my desires and whims. I’ve thought a lot about the verse that talks about sin is enjoyable for a season. And it’s not that the cookie is sinful. Really, it’s not. It’s that my lack of self-control, self-discipline, and general lack of dependence on God in my hard times was the sin. It’s not the cookie. It’s the greediness and gluttony that is the sin.
At first I spent a lot of time hungry. And I’ll be the first to tell you that my blood sugar can get kind of wacky and I cry and get out of control quickly and easily. I still snacked in between meals. But I chose a small salad. I piece of cheese, some precooked (I’ll get to that, by the way) lean meat, a piece of fruit. Smart snacks to boost my blood sugar and get me through. I always stopped eating while I still felt hungry. It killed me. But after a little bit (30 minutes or so) usually I didn’t feel hungry anymore. And I was so proud to have pushed through. Sometimes I was still too hungry 30 minutes later and I ate a little something else – one more piece of fruit, a few veggies. Just enough to try to not be ravenous. But the hunger? That’s what brings the weight loss. Really, embrace the hunger. It’s not a terrible thing.
I’m not exercising right now, though I would like to be. I would like to have a treadmill and the time and energy to walk on one. I don’t live on a road that’s safe to walk down. I don’t live close enough to a track. It’s an obstacle, but it’s not an excuse. I will overcome. I am, however, still nursing. And I know that’s helping. That’s a considerable amount of calories burning away, which is another reason I’m glad I decided to change my ways now while he’s still nursing. It makes it easier to lose the weight and not be actually exercising. However, don’t let that stop you. Don’t let that be an excuse. You can lose the weight. You can.
I’m choosing healthier more of the time. When I really want a fourth meal snack I evaluate what all I had at dinner. I think through if I overate, what it was that I ate, if it warrants a second dinner. If I held back and ate sensibly, I’ll eat a fourth meal. But it’s something like cereal (Chex, Cheerios, Honey Bunches of Oats, not like Cocoa Pebbles, yo?) or a helping of steamed broccoli. And I eat less of it. Last night we ate Mexican food. It was wonderful. But I was starving when we ate and therefore I ate way too much of it. The entire dinner. Which now, I usually will eat half a dinner and be good. Not this time. I ate the whole thing. I immediate felt guilty. Because I knew I had fallen down in a moment of weakness. I did not have control of me. And I felt physically sick because I wasn’t used to eating that much. So I purposed to eat no 4th meal, no bedtime snack last night. It’s an exchange program. I eat this, I won’t eat that. I’ll choose a bite of this, I will give up that. It’s a conscious making of decisions though and not a stumbling through my weaknesses and stupidity. But when I do stumble, like last night. I forgive myself. I decide to do better. And then I do.
Oh, and I told you I would tell you about the cooking ahead this new way. We buy lean red meat (yes, steaks and such) and chicken breasts. We eat more ground turkey and turkey bacon and turkey burgers. Because we can get fuller on more food for less calories. And that’s what you’re aiming for. Less calories. We aren’t substituting a lot of “diet” sugarfree foods (some, but just not a lot). We are checking how many crackers have how many calories. How many calories does this type of bread contain compared to this type of bread. We will marinate the chicken, prep the meat, and Matt will grill it all at once. Or if you’re doing it alone, cook it all at once. Then you can stick them in ziplocks fully cooked in the fridge. That way, if you’re starving and need something to push you on over to the next meal you can choose a few bites of high protein good for you food. It’s instant. You don’t want to be cooking when you’re starving. This helps.
And here’s what’s helped me. I didn’t give up the foods I love forever. I want to still eat chocolate. I want to still eat out. I want to eat what other people serve to me. It’s important. I want to enjoy food and life. This way, this examined life way is the way that I’ve found that I can do that. I can have my cake and eat it too. I just don’t eat the whole cake. And I don’t eat the cake after having 15 other high calorie things. See? There’s a rhythm. There’s a way. I don’t believe you have to live in misery to be skinny. I believe you can figure out a way to have both. But it will take getting there. It will take effort. It will take waking up and making a decision and showing yourself grace and going forward.
The race is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. Finish it well.
Plan ahead, choose wisely, check labels, open your eyes, be aware. Be conscious. Know that you can do this. Examine your life, your ways. Lean only on God and not the food that you so desperately want in this moment.
You can do this. I’m doing this. A few months ago I weighed 145. Today I weigh 118. And I ate a mini Twix at naptime today. I just didn’t eat 5 of them like I used to.