For the past five days, I've been sharing a bunch of stuff that I've been discussing with a new found friend...who just happens to be a nutritionist. Unlike other nutritionists I've spoken to in the past, she doesn't tell me I need to eat less than 1800 calories a day, cut out certain foods from my diet, or log every single morsel of food I eat in to a little journal or online planner.
I love her.
For someone that's just starting out with the weight loss thing, it can be very overwhelming at the amount of information there is out there about different things one should or shouldn't do while trying to lose weight, countless diet programs, and health gurus around every corner that wants you to believe that the way they lost weight is the best and only way to lose weight.
For someone that's been trying for years and years? It's exactly the same. Except I'm still overweight and trying to find something that works.
I expected for Sally to refer me to the other information I'd been given already, tell me which diet plan is the best, and leave it at that.
But, she didn't.
She told me how different each person is. Why certain diets don't work for everyone. And basically the information I'd already been given by so many... but how to combine it all together to trial and error my way in to finding a diet plan that works for ME.
Over the course of the past five days, I've shared health reasons that can be caused from eliminating certain foods. I've shared information on why just counting calories won't work for me. I've shared the information on the most popular diet plans I've been told to try.... with the reasons I just don't think they'll work for me. And I've shared the food groups that I should be filling my pantry and refrigerator up with.
All of it is well known information. All of it I double checked and Googled and researched. All of it made sense - even though I'd heard it before - probably because it was delivered to me in a way that I'm not used to. And that's with the understanding that I don't need to follow the rules of some strict diet plan, that I can basically make my own.
So, after discussing everything I've shared in great length with Sally... I wanted to know the answer to the main questions that had been playing on my mind...
What do I eat, when, and how often?
What I expected was a plan of action. Eat this much for breakfast at this time, eat these foods for lunch at this time, eat this for dinner at this time, and then eat a snack or two at these times of day.
But, I didn't get that.
Sally asked me what my normal eating habits were like. I laughed and shared that there aren't any habits when it comes to my eating.
Some days I go all day without eating anything until dinner time comes around, and then I eat an enormous dinner because I realize I haven't eaten all day...and make up for it.
Other days, I start off right with a good, large breakfast, then stop in at McDonald's to grab something for lunch, then eat an enormous dinner... followed up with late night snacks and treats.
On occasion I get up and eat a Greek yogurt, maybe a sandwich for lunch, eat a few nuts or some trail mix for a snack, and then eat a light dinner... like a salad or chicken with veggies.
Rather than criticizing me on my poor eating habits, or proclaiming a well deserved "Duh, no wonder you're overweight", she simply shared that I need to figure out a way to create eating habits. A routine. Something I can stick with and get used to.
If I made myself get up and grab a Greek yogurt with my coffee each and every morning...maybe a piece of toast with a poached egg on the weekends... I can start a breakfast routine. One thing I don't suffer from is getting bored eating the same things. I could eat a Greek yogurt every single day, and probably never get bored with it.
Working in the environment I do, there really is no room for a mid-morning snack, so I just wait until lunch. Lunch comes early enough. At lunch, I eat a cooked meal prepared by the cafeteria ladies. During my plan time in the afternoon, eat a snack.
Then, at dinner time...eat what I eat, but focus on my portion sizes.
If all of my foods are coming from the selections of food groups I've been given, and I eat at regular times each and every day.... I will lose weight and keep it off.
One thing I've been told for years is that I have to have a schedule for my eating. I need to eat breakfast before 9am, lunch at noon, snack at 2pm, and dinner around 5. No eating after 6pm. (Times vary). I've been told to eat a big breakfast, light lunch, and healthy portioned dinner. With snacks that may or may not be needed. Each with their own set of calorie guidelines. Three hundred calories for breakfast and lunch, five to six hundred calories for dinner, and one hundred calorie snacks. (As an example)
Sally says that while I do need some form of structure in the way I eat, it's more about a regular routine that will just become second nature. Not by which foods to eat, simply by when I eat and how much. If I'm only selecting foods from the "healthy food list", then I shouldn't have to use specific ratios or whatever with each meal.
OK, I'm starting to get a little shady and confusing with my explanation...sounding like I'm negating everything...let's break it down a little.
Take breakfast. By just about every health professional and weight loss success story I've ever heard tells me that I should eat a large breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A good serving of carbs and protein to kick off my energy and help me feel full longer.
Part of that is true. Eating in the morning does awaken the system and gets the body in calorie burning mode, versus the calorie store mode it was in for the past seven hours.
But Sally says if I feel satisfied with a Greek yogurt and a cup of coffee as my breakfast, then that's all I need to eat. I don't need to force anymore food in if it's not what I want to do. If I get up early and feel pretty energized after just eating a yogurt...then fine. Greek yogurt has the same protein as two eggs and even though it has sugar.. it doesn't give me that quick desire to eat more and make me hungry a lot faster (unlike my other simple carb friends).
Lunch while I'm working is a lot easier - because it happens the same time each and every day. The teachers in my school have the privilege of a "teacher's menu"... which can be good and bad. The cooks often prepare foods that the kids can't have because of the strict restrictions they have on what they can and can't feed to the children and then feed it to the teachers. However, every day there is always a beautiful salad bar. My routine will be making sure I opt for the foods that are incorporated in my healthy food guidelines, and making sure I pay attention to the portion sizes.
If I've eaten a pretty good lunch, I shouldn't really need an afternoon snack.. but if the snack monster rears it's head, I need to take little baggies that are already broke in to serving sizes. Whole wheat pretzels, crackers, veggies, or trail mix are good choices. However, I shouldn't be eating the snack just because it's available... only if I start to feel hungry or sluggish.
Then, for dinner, just remember my portion sizes. Only eat what's on my plate. If I start to get full...stop eating. Don't eat dinner too early if I have trouble with feeling hungry before bed... try to eat between 6pm and 7pm (if possible) so the need for a late snack won't be so likely. If the need for a snack does come up, then slice up a few slices of cucumber and snack on those. They are mostly water, won't devastate my daily eating, and will satisfy the craving for something sweet or salty.
What it really comes down to, and the piece of information that Sally provided that I will probably cherish forever is this...
It's not about the "rules" of healthy eating. It's about the willpower to eat healthy. You have to train your mind and body to only eat what's good for you, and only eat as much of it to keep it good for you. When you eat it or how you eat it isn't near as important. Even healthy foods can be overeaten and become bad. It's all about the strength to commit to eating the right portion sizes selected from the right food groups at regular times throughout the day....and the rest will just happen.
So, even if everything I've said this past few days has been nothing more than one jumbled up pile of stank... confusing, contradictory, or everything everyone has already told me. It all comes down to just what Sally says.
I know what good and bad foods are. I know how to tell. I know what constitutes a healthy portion size. I know, yet I'm still fat.
If I don't have the power to use my knowledge... in a way that fits me... in a smart, and healthy way... then I'm my own worst enemy.
Which I am...or have been.
I've always had this knowledge. I've always known what foods I should be eating. I've always known that it's so much more than counting calories and avoiding fat and sugar. I've always known that my eating shouldn't revolve around my feelings, but revolve around the needs of my body.
There's just always been one ingredient missing. The willpower.
I make excuses about how I'm bombarded with suggestions and diet plans and not knowing what the heck I should do. But the truth? Yes I do. I've known all along.
I know that at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what plan I chose to or not chose to follow. I can pick at diet plans and find the flaws about what I can't do or what I'm not willing to give up. But even those are excuses. If I would just commit and do...I would succeed.
But, I feel empowered. I feel like I don't have a rule book I need to follow. I know that I just need to train my mind to only be open to the foods that do a body good, and avoid those that harm. It really is that simple.
But without willpower... it's impossible.
So, now, my pantry and cabinets and refrigerator and freezer are full of only the foods that I can eat. That's the easy part. Now it's creating my routine to love myself, love my body, and treat it right.
Excuses are like assholes... everyone has one and they all stink!
So, with the help of Sally, I'm going to battle my inner demons. I'm going to feed my motivation. I'm going to focus on the changes that are in store.
And, now, the Mad, Fat Woman is going back to doing what I do... with a new game plan.
Till next time!
a/k/a Mad, Fat Woman