I am not going to write just about what I have been eating – or not eating – to lose the weight. There is much more to this story that is important to understand and it may be covered over several posts instead of just one.
I grew up being told to clean my plate because there were starving children in China. You too? I also grew up associating food with love. My mom, my aunts, my nice grandma and even my grandma who was slightly evil, baked and cooked. My mom could always “throw on a lunch” if people stopped by. The standing joke in the family is that any worthwhile gathering has to have enough to feed the same sized crowd twice because we will want to eat later or other people will show up because they know we are having a gathering and that there will certainly be extra food. We had lots of family gatherings when I was growing up. They were very important times in my life and I would not trade those picnics in Aunt Esther’s park or dinners with the Hennigar’s for anything.
I really wasn’t a fat kid though. See for yourself:
In the picture below I am with my cousin, Dana. Check out the skinned knees. I was also about 8 in this photo.
My weight problems did start shortly after these photos. I was what was called “chubby” and had to wear “chubbete” sizes. My brother Doug was “husky”, the boy’s equivalent to being fat. You might think that would be enough to change our ways. Nope.
The first time I lost weight was in junior high. I followed a 1200 calorie a day diet, including that nasty powdered milk. I lost weight and Uncle Joe rewarded me with a Bobby Brooks and Pandora outfit from the store. I ate real food, other than the nasty milk. (The nasty milk was not my choice. It was my mother’s doing.)
I now know that I was not fat in high school. I only thought I was fat. I became a runner and joined the track team because running did not involve flying objects and I didn’t have to get in the water. I wasn’t fast but I had a good time during track season. In the off season I also ran – even in the Michigan winters. I have fond memories of running with Judy Barnikow down snow and ice covered streets. I was also in the marching band. If you do not think that was a workout then you were not in band.
I’ll summarize here so I can get to the main topic:
College – gained and lost weight. I joined Weight Watchers for the first time. It was the year they said you could eat peanut butter.
Post college – no job the first year, thanks to the economy. I ate and was sick several times. My immune system was not built up enough for subbing in a different school every day.
Virginia Beach – I taught 9th grade in a school that did not have 9th grade. I gained weight. Then I started ballroom dancing and I lost a lot of weight. I was 10 pounds from my goal weight when I moved into Owen Hall at Michigan State that has a dairy and ice cream to die for.
Grad school. That is a whole topic unto itself. Up and down several times.
Post grad school – up and down again to the present.
Most of the weight management I tried was Weight Watchers. It can work and I was successful on WW. The only insane thing I did was OptiFast in my early 40’s. For the 6 weeks of the program it was fine but when they turn you loose and leave you to your own devices it is another story.
Over the past few years I’ve tried several things: the Duke Diet, the South Beach Diet, even the Biggest Loser Diet, and always Weight Watchers again. Some of these were complicated, especially for someone living alone and cooking for one person.
One thing that I did not do regularly was exercise. I did work with trainers on and off. I worked out on and off. But not regularly. I did not think I was athletic.
The main topic
Several people have asked me how I avoid eating. One word: Planning. I really think that is my key and it has been the key at other times in my life. The program I am on right now is fairly simple because I have a fairly limited choice of things I can eat. I do need to make adjustments, sometimes several times a week if my schedule calls for being out of town or I have multiple meetings to attend. On those occasions I make smart choices most of the time. I think I wrote that I can always find something to eat at a restaurant. There has only been one occasion when that was not true and I finally managed to find something that was a pretty decent choice. I select broiled or grilled fish or chicken with a salad or vegetables. I ask for food to be prepared in ways that I can eat it if I am eating out – or for certain ingredients to be left off (mayonnaise, cheese, etc.). It’s not always easy. I plan each day the night before. I know what I am going to eat and pack my lunch if it is a week day. If it is the weekend, I just know what I will eat. I also eat something every 2-3 hours, even if it is jello or yogurt. I try not to eat very late at night. Also, if I have eaten everything that I planned to eat that day, then I am done. I don’t eat anymore.
I am also frequently asked if I am hungry. I’m really not. I can only think of a couple of times since I started the Bariatrics program when I have been hungry. Those were times when I either had not planned or when something in my schedule changed and I could not eat when I had planned to eat.
The other essential item in this weight loss has been exercise. I think that also helps me avoid eating. I don’t know why. I am sure there is some kind of explanation but I am not sure what it is. I feel far less stressed than I did before I started exercising regularly and I find that I turn to exercise now instead of food if I do start feeling stressed. That is a huge change in my life.
I will probably write more about this topic in the future.