Archive for the ‘healthy food choices’ Category

The Cost of 100-Calorie Candy

MM_100CL_7br[1].previewI was out shopping last night, knowing today was going to be a tough work day…again. I was right. I decided, while I was in Target, that  I better have some manageable, calorie-counted chocolate on hand if  I planned to make it through the day without ravaging the vending machine for the Linden Chocolate Chip Cookies and Milky Ways that are in there (yes, I know what’s in the vending machine at all times, but I am careful never, ever to put change into it anymore).

Wondering what 100-calorie treat might just do the trick today, I spied 100-calorie M&M packs. They were like a beacon on a dark night. I scooped ’em up and threw them in my cart. $3.99 for seven carefully calorie-counted-out packs.

I grabbed a pack today when I went home for lunch, so I would have it for that much-needed 3:00 pm sugar injection. I almost always opt for a healthy snack at 3pm (yogurt, fruit, kashi bar), but today, I knew that wasn’t going to cut it.

When I grabbed my M&Ms from the box, I thought, hmmm, these look surprsingly similar to the M&M fun packs. So I went online, just to see. How many calories are there in an M&M fun pack? You’ll never guess. No really. You won’t. 100? Is that your final answer? Well, you’d be right.

I paid $3.99 for 7 M&M fun packs. What a bonehead. Had I just checked the fun pack package…with Halloween weeks away they are all over the place…I could have saved myself quite a bit of money if I’d just done that research. I’m pretty sure there are more than 7 packages in a fun-size bag. And it probably costs….drumroll please….$3.99.

I’ve learned my lesson. Always check the options before purchasing 100-calorie candy. I’m pretty sure though I’m much safer with only seven fun packs in the house.

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Soul Searching

I went to lunch with a friend yesterday. It was my last day of vacation and it was a nice close to a couple of days off from work.  I’ve gotten over my crazy binge-y days (well, sort of) and for lunch yesterday had a nice Caesar Salad with grilled chicken, dressing on the side. It was yummy and filling. And the whole way home, I wanted ice cream. Cold, creamy and sweet. I got home and had a bottle of water, thinking maybe that was just thirst. But about 15 minutes later, I went for the ice cream… (in a controlled fashion this time, light ice cream, 1/2 cup.) But I wanted that sweet. And I realized, I always need want something sweet after a meal.

Bear with me as I digress…

Last night I was talking with my sister who had gone to a past life regression session. She’s been sick on and off for a number of years now and she’s trying different therapies to get to the root of it. Traditional medicine can’t figure out what the heck is going on and she’s been told on a number of occasions it’s all in her head. Actually it’s just about everywhere but her head. She’s been diagnosed with Sarcoidosis (oh wait, that’s not what it is…even though the telltale nodules in her lungs were there) Lupus (oops, sorry, not that either), Hypo Thyroid (nodules there too but well, no, that’s not causing the other issues…), perimenopausal epilepsy (huh? ok a stretch, but more or less impossible to diagnose or dispute, and most likely not that either.)

She is now going for allergy testing, and through the program she is in, NAET, is trying to understand her emotions and how they may play into whatever she is dealing with, and how that might be affecting her relationship with certain foods.

From there, she decided to try past life regression therapy. She’s been told she’s an old soul…

Her regression therapy didn’t take her back to previous lives really. It did take her back, however, to when she was a baby and had pneumonia. She was 6 months old and in an oxygen tent in the hospital. Visiting hours were over and they made my mother leave. My sister put her arms up to be picked up for the very first time in her life, and my mother was not allowed to hold her. It broke my mother’s heart, and she told this story on more than one occasion.

Apparently it broke my sister’s heart too. What was so interesting is that she remembered not just that my mother left her in the hospital (she would have known that because she’d heard the story), but how she felt at that moment. Scared, abandoned and confused. It was a tough for her last night to dredge that up. But maybe, just maybe, it will also release some locked away emotion or fear that has had an effect on her health. Who knows?

Ok, so that was the long way around to a food story. Her story last night made me think about my relationship with food too. Where did it start? Where did it go so horribly wrong? I don’t have a normal relationship with food. I don’t think any obese or formerly obese person does. Obviously these things start in our childhoods. I had a therapist once tell me that everything we do, situations we put ourselves in, are attempts to re-create how we felt as children, because that is where we are most comfortable. For example, I grew up with four brothers, a sister and one bathroom. 🙂 My childhood consisted of ordered chaos and I’ve chosen jobs along the path of my life that are chaotic. I am also the oldest and have always had a strong sense of responsibility. So in my chaotic jobs, I’ve always had roles where I am the one who cleans up and makes sure everything gets done.

Growing up with four brothers and a sister and not a lot of money also meant that when dinner was put on the table, if it was something good, you had to eat fast if you wanted more. Not to mention, there was always a loaf of Wonder White Bread and Parkay margarine there with dinner. It was the ’60s okay? White bread was good for you, and it was ok to smoke during pregnancy.

My mother was a wonderful cook and she believed in balanced nutrition. We got our veggies, even if we didn’t like them.  Her specialty, however,  was desserts. So when she made us eat something we didn’t like, like liver and stewed tomatoes (my Dad’s favorite) or succotash (lima beans anyone?) or Pork Butt and Cabbage (actually that last one wasn’t too bad), it was always followed by some yummy dessert.

It was how they would bribe us to finish our dinners. Finish your lima beans and you get sugar! That wasn’t bad for you then either. Sorry, at eight years old, it’s tough to comprehend the starving children in other countries thing.

Desserts would be creamy homemade puddings, cakes, brownies or cookies and even, yes–I went for one of these last weekend–Whoopie Pies. My mother made those from scratch. Sometimes the desserts would be from the store…Ring Dings (does anyone remember them in the foil packaging? We’d eat the Ring Dings and then spend hours ironing out the foil. I’m not sure why.)

I was so conditioned as a child to expect dessert after a meal that it is what I look for still to this day. And I don’t know if it’s possible to change that conditioning. I don’t know that I will ever not want something sweet after something savory.

What I can change though is how I handle it. I want something sweet. It doesn’t have to be a gazillion calories and laden with fat and sugar, although that’s the most fun. There are so many portioned snacks that subdue that sweet urge just as well as a Whoopie Pie (470 calories folks, almost all fat). And fruit, that’s sweet too! Who knew?

For this food quirk at least, while maybe I can’t control the urge, I’ve learned to manage it more or less. Maybe it means I still eat a little too much sugar from time to time, but I’m eating far less of it than I would have in the past. And I’ve learned to savor it too. Somehow when I take my time and enjoy my food (another behavior that is taking some work), the calories just don’t seem to hang on as long.

Can you pinpoint any childhood habits, pleasures, behaviors that are affecting your adult eating? What are you doing about them?

Climbing Back On The Wagon After A Hard Fall

littleredwagonWhen I wrote my blog post on Wednesday, I wrote that I was struggling with staying on track food-wise. I somehow managed to stay in control until that evening when I came home to pizza and scarfed two pieces without even thinking about it. I will admit, even though I felt a little guilty later, it felt GOOD to eat with abandon. So good, in fact, that it sent me on a downward spiral for the next four days. By day four, however, it didn’t feel so good anymore.

Thursday there was seafood bisque in a bread bowl and delicious chocolate truffles. Friday it was an overload on english muffins with butter and cinnamon sugar (a favorite treat but I always stop at one. Mind you, these are the high-fiber, low-cal multigrain english muffins and I used light butter, but still. Did I really need two of them?

Saturday, ah what can I say about Saturday. If it didn’t try to run away from me, I ate it. Candy, more pizza, whoopie pies (have you ever had those?) ice cream….the list goes on. Food shopping was a dangerous thing to do on Saturday.

And yesterday, while I started to regain some control, I still ate some of the wrong things.

During this, I did still try to make some healthy choices, as though that would somehow magically make the madness stop. It didn’t. And I exercised and drank my water…same reasoning, same results.

By last night though, I felt out of control and a little nervous that I’d screwed up big-time and wouldn’t be able to pull it back. And my stomach hurt.

I think I’d been heading toward this for awhile, and that may have a lot to do with my stalled weight loss. Little tastes here and there that I wasn’t tracking, a slightly larger than measured portion, an extra treat.

Last night, through a twitter conversation with @patbarone, I realized that I had put myself on vacation mentality, and I was also feeling overwhelmed by stuff I have to get done at home over the next few days. Procrastination by food.

This morning, though, on the 3-mile run that I really didn’t feel like tackling (this is why I sign up for races), I realized that instead of being proud of myself, I’ve been beating myself up again. Instaed of focusing on how far I’ve come, I’ve been frustrated with how slow the weight loss is going and that I’d like to be further along in my tri training.

While I was running this morning, I reversed that. How far have I come, for goodness sake? What can I do now that I couldn’t a year ago? What positive changes have I made that stuck? I’m running. In the beginning, I was barely walking. I’m a size 12. I was a size 20. I drink lots of water and very little soda. I eat so much healthier than I did. I even eat vegetables and lean protein and whole grains.

So many things have changed for the better for me since I started this journey. So “fat girl” managed to creep back in for a couple of days. “Fit girl” is stronger and today she has pushed “fat girl” to the back corner again.

I don’t doubt that “fat girl” will show up from time to time. She’s been a part of me a lot longer than “fit girl,” and man, does she love her chocolate!  But I know I’m strong enough now to regain my healthy self even after a hard fall off the wagon.

As @patbarone said, “it’s not about what feels good now. It’s about what feels good later.” Today is later, my resolve is back, and I feel great!

Weight Watchers Relationship Update

So after much soul searching yesterday and a long conversation with my Weight Watchers online point tracker last night….we cried, we laughed, we reminisced about the good times and tried to figure out where things started going wrong…I decided that, overall, the relationship has been good for me and deserves another chance. Besides, just once, I’d like to get to lifetime member at Weight Watchers. That would be cool.

However, I am taking a little vacation. We need some time away from each other to sort out the issues and recommit to the long-term goals. I’ve gotten too caught up in the day-to-day details and it’s making things difficult.

So after weighing in this morning— I lost the same .8 pounds I gained last week so I’m back to my weight of two weeks ago— I’m not weighing in again for two weeks. The home scale is going in the closet (or I may have hubby hide it where I can’t find it) and I’m not checking my weight until August 27 at Weight Watchers.

I’m also taking a break from points again. I’ll continue to track my food, but I’m going to focus more on the quality of the food I eat (I’ve gotten much better about this in the past month or so) than on the points.

Still, however, when I have two points left and it’s a choice between a WW chocolate chip cookie or a yogurt, the cookie always wins. When I take the points away, I’ll eat the yogurt because that’s what I really want and I know I can have the cookie if I want it later. Then I don’t always even eat the cookie. It’s surprising to me that even though I know this, I slip back into this behavior all the time. And that’s the thing that I really need to change.

So we’re on hiatus, me and Weight Watchers. Just for two weeks to see how it goes. I know on my part, there’ll be lots of yearning (to track those points and step on that scale), but for Weight Watchers, well it has so many others to tend to, I’m sure I won’t be missed too much.

These next two weeks, I’ll be focusing on my triathlon training, feeling good about how far I’ve come, finding some balance and being happy with me again as I am right now. I’ve let the struggles with the scale get in the way of that. I may even finally get to that Pilates class.

After all, when I started this journey this time, I promised myself it wasn’t going to be about the numbers. It was about getting healthy. I’ve accomplished that and that needs to remain the focus.

Thank you to all my twitter and blogging friends for your input and insight. It really helped so much!

Is It Time To Break Up With Weight Watchers?

Lately, I’m feeling obsessed with food and the scale. My weight loss, while moving again, is still very slow and frustrating. And as I get closer to my weigh-in each week (on Thursdays), I step on the scale every day and get frustrated when it goes up instead of down when I’m eating right. On days like yesterday, sometimes the weight fluctuations (even though rationally I know they are from water weight, hormones or whatever else) throw me into a funk, which can ultimately lead to poor eating behaviors, as in “Oh hell, nothing is working anyway so why not eat that row of Oreo cookies?”

I’m on Weight Watchers and for the past year, it has worked for me. I’ve stayed accountable because I have to get on that scale every week. But the scale doesn’t tell the whole story. And lately the scale doesn’t want to tell any story at all while my body adjusts to its new smaller, fitter size. I would still like to lose 20 pounds but I’ve lost 60 in the past year and that’s a pretty big adjustment.

On Weight Watchers, too, my mindset about food hasn’t so much changed as shifted. Don’t get me wrong, it’s shifted in a good way, but I still spend way too much time thinking about food. When I was fat, I’d think about my next snack, meal, binge… all day long. I’d have peace while eating, and then afterward, I’d spend time feeling guilty for overdoing it at the meal, snack, binge.

Now that I’ve lost weight, guess what I think about? Right. My next meal, snack….not so much binge anymore since I have to get on the scale on Thursdays at weigh in. But I do obsess about my food still. If I have a snack in my drawer set for 11:00, I’m thinking about it by 10:00 and by 11:00, I’m ripping into whatever it is, whether I’m hungry or not. If I choose not to eat something because I have to weigh in on Thursday, I spend time wanting it and feeling deprived, often only to be disappointed at the Thursday weigh-in when the scale doesn’t  move much anyway.

And guess what I do after my Thursday weigh-in each week? C’mon you know the answer to this if you ever read this blog. Or if you’ve ever been a weight watcher. I eat. Usually, the wrong things in too-high quantities. And trust me, free-for-all food Thursday is worse when that scale doesn’t budge.

When I decided to lose weight  a year ago, what I really wanted was to be healthy and to have a healthy relationship with food. I definitely have a better relationship with food in that I’ve re-introduced fruits and veggies, lean proteins and whole grains and limit the bad stuff, but I still think about food all the time. I’d like to be more like my naturally thin friends who eat when they are hungry. What a concept. No schedule, no obsessing. Just I’m hungry. Time to eat. I’m full. Time to stop.

Weight Watchers has incorporated the hunger assessment idea into the program, but for me it’s been about the food schedule and “when can I eat next?” What can I have today?” What can’t  I have today?” “It’s Thursday! Free-for-all Food day!”

I’m so happy with the changes I’ve made and I really do have Weight Watchers to thank for a lot of it. But I’m wondering, if I ever want to get to the next level, of simply eating for sustenance, is it time to shift my focus away from the number on the scale and more to the way I feel each day?

Do I break up with my scale and with Weight Watchers for a while and focus on other things like triathlon training? Obviously I would still need to plan and journal so I don’t slide back into bad behaviors. Or do I stick to what I’m currently doing and just try to reset my mind around the number frustration I’m feeling? It’s scary to think of walking away from Weight Watchers as it has become such an integral part of my routine this past year. At the same time, it’s not working as well anymore, so maybe it’s time to make a change. Thoughts?

Running For French Fries

Now that I’ve recovered (more or less) from Saturday’s Triathlon, I can tell you the highlights for me centered around the amazing people who competed in and supported this race.

First, I’m always amazed how wonderful people can be. At this race, the more seasoned athletes and even some of the other beginners were so helpful and supportive to us newbies, it made me proud to  be a part of this. I also tried to pass on as much info as I could because at registration on Friday night, we had someone explain how to get into and out of  the pool and snake the lanes, how to rack our bikes, how to make sure we knew where to return our bikes. Not everyone got that little bit of information. It made this race less chaotic than the first one was for me (my duathlon in April).

When I lined up for the swim (we seeded ourselves based on time), for a while I was the only girl in my time with a bunch of guys. Made me think that I must have made a mistake and I should move back to the slower times. I was right on the money though with my swim time and was very glad I stayed where I did. A couple of other women showed up there too which made me a little more comfortable. I had a smooth swim with no one bumping into me or having to wait for slower swimmers to get back in line.

While waiting to go into the water I started chatting with the guy in front of me, who, by the end of the conversation decided I should go before him because I was faster. That made me feel great…and nervous at the same time. It also made me swim faster since I didn’t want to slow him down. At the lane ends, where shifting to the next lane was confusing, people were so polite. There were at least three people at each lane end and we were all “You go, no you go, no it’s ok, you can go first.” I think everyone kind of wanted an excuse to rest, but it was all very cordial and polite. The “niceness” probably slowed us all down some, but better to lose a few seconds than get kicked in the face.

The staff and volunteers for Event Power cheered us on the whole way and on the bike, one girl staffer yelled out “The third time you see me, you go back to transition!” It saved me from having to try and count the loops on the bike path, which was confusing at best. Smart girl! She probably saved at least a few people from disqualification because they wouldn’t have done the three loops.

On my run, where I walked quite a bit of the way, twice when I was walking, another competitor slowed down to walk with me and talk me into running again. The first time was a woman at about the same level as me (we both needed the few minutes of walking I think) but we got each other going again. The second time it was a young girl, almost done with her run (I was on the first loop). She was doing great and had no reason to slow down with me, but she did, just to help me along. I can’t thank that woman enough, because I was having a rough time at that point, and I didn’t give up, partly because of her.

The other reason I didn’t give up? Are you ready for this? Diner french fries. I’m not kidding. When I had about a half mile to go, I just kept telling myself, get your butt across that finish line and you can go to the diner and have a real omelette (none of this egg white crap) and french fries! Hot, salty, crispy, thick diner french fries with lots of ketchup.

And guess what? I finished my race, hung around a bit to wait for results, was even interviewed (and I’ll link that when it’s live) and then went home, showered and had my diner breakfast at like 1:00 in the afternoon. Those were the best damned french fries I’ve ever eaten.

All the time I was dreaming about my delicious french fries, I was also fighting with myself because I know food should not be a reward like that anymore.  Some habits die hard.

But hey, whatever gets you through, right? And I got through. And I’m doing it again!

Official Split times were posted yesterday: Here’s how I fared for a 400-meter swim, 6-mile bike and 2-mile run. T1 and T2 were transitions between the race segments.

Total clock time: 1.06.03

Swim 10.57

T1 3.22

Bike 23.47

T2 1.33

Run 26.25

The Tricky Thing About Weight Watchers Points

I am happy to report I was down 1.6 pounds at my Weight Watchers weigh-in this morning. I’m back on a losing track, which feels much better than the plateau that I was stuck on for three months. I’ve got about 19 pounds to go to get to goal. I can’t even remember the last time I only had 19 pounds to lose. And from my very heaviest weight, about 15 years ago, I’m down 98 pounds. I had lost and gained many times over the years, and had managed to keep about 30 pounds off from that highest number.

This time though will be the last time I lose weight because I’m not gaining it back. I’m down 61 pounds and feel better than I’ve felt in decades.

Anyway, about points. Today’s loss puts me in the  next bracket points-wise. I now get 20 points a day. I exercise a lot so I can always supplement and there’s always the 35 weekly points, but for me, there has been a psychological block about going over my daily allotted points.

A few weeks ago, I decided to pay more attention to what my body wanted to eat rather than staying in my points range. This is hard for me. I’m working on it, but I always want to cut myself off when I’m tracking and the screen tells me I’ve used all my points. I’ve resisted that. And at WW this morning, when I mentioned to the leader that I now lose a point, she told me not to do that. Stay with what I’m doing because it’s working.

So what is it that I’m doing? I actually allow myself a few more points. Not a gazillion or anything like that and not every day. But if  I have a hard workout or I’m just hungry, I eat. And I eat until I’m satisfied. I’ve been concentrating on making healthier choices too. Cocoa-roasted almonds rather than WW candy for instance for a sweet treat. Yogurt and strawberries rather than ice cream. Tomato slices or string beans with sea salt rather than pretzels.

Don’t get me wrong. I still leave room for treats like ice cream or cookies once or twice a day. I’m  trying to limit this a bit more and make sure my food counts. Its tough getting out of the mindset of points, points, points. But I had definitely gotten myself into a point rut, which really slowed things down. And I wasn’t eating enough food to sustain the exercising I was doing.

Weight Watchers is a great program and I owe a lot to the accountability and tools I have gained from it to make better food choices, the inspiration to get off my butt and move, the motivation I get from the leader, meetings and online stuff.

At some point though, we do have to trust ourselves if this is going to be a lifelong commitment. And while it may have seemed counter-intuitive to eat more to lose weight, for me, that seems to be working as long as I make good food choices most of the time. It took me a couple of months to get to this point because I was so worried about going over points. But I have more food freedom now, and by making sure I eat healthy rather than staying in points, the weight has started to come off again. I still track my food every day, but I pay more attention to the buttons that focus on getting the daily requirements.

On a race-training note, I rode 7 miles this morning—last workout before the big race on Saturday. I get to rest tomorrow. That will be nice. Keep your fingers crossed for me for less humidity.