My weight loss journey

I don’t know where I started weight-wise when I began this weight loss journey. I’d stopped weighing myself, and even refused to look at the scale at the doctor’s office. I told them not to tell me the bad news. All I know is what size clothes I was wearing. I started this journey shortly after fitting into a 3X and now I’m down to a women’s size 12. If I had to guess, I’d say I’ve lost at least 50 pounds. It’s taken several years and a variety of weight loss programs.

I put on the weight in the midst of horrible chapter in my life that began about nine years ago. I’m not comfortable sharing the details, but it was bad enough that I ended up in the hospital more than one on suicide watch. I tend to eat my feelings, and because my feelings were strong and long-lasting, I quickly put on a great deal of weight.

As things settled down, I wanted to take off the weight that I’d gained, but that’s no small feat.

I tried a variety of low-carb diets, ordered frozen meals from Nutrisystem, and tried intermittent fasting. All of which worked for a while. But then I’d take a break from the diet and quickly start putting the weight back on. It was a yo-yo ride of losing weight, gaining some back, losing weight again, gaining some back. Often I would gain enough back that I’d be at a higher weight than when I started. It was frustrating and depressing. So far with my current program, although there have been periods of no weight loss, I haven’t had times of gaining the weight back. I consider that success after my previous weight loss experience.

Now I’m just doing a simple program of eating three meals per day with one small snack. I’m not eating sugar, and I’m going easy on wheat and grains. I’ve lost two sizes since starting this current way of eating about a year ago. Slowly but surely, I’m losing the weight I’d started to think would never come off. I’m currently experiencing a weight loss plateau so I may start measuring my foods to make sure I’m not eating servings that are too big. I also may follow a friend’s suggestion to make an appointment with a nutritionist.

I shrunk down into a size 12 last week, so my excitement is still fresh. I didn’t lose any sizeable amount of weight prior to changing sizes, but it seems that my body is reproportioning itself.

I still have a ways to go, but I feel hopeful that this time the weight will come off … and stay off!

 

What do I eat?

Someone asked earlier, now that I’m avoiding my binge foods and foods that I crave (mainly sugar and white flour with some crunch/salty items), what do I eat for my meals. This is a general list:
  • Breakfast is usually either oatmeal, fruit, yogurt, or some sort of egg dish (fried, scrambled, omelette, frittata).
  • Lunch could be yogurt (unsweetened and I add my own fresh fruit), whole grain sandwich, soup, curry, chili, tuna salad.
  • Snacks are usually some sort of fruit, cheese, or lunch meat.
  • Dinner can be most anything – fajita bowl, curry, soup, chili, frittata, whole grain sandwich, chicken salad, variety of salads, fish, meat, rice. Lots of veggies.
I try to stick to three meals per day with one snack. Setting a boundary around the eating helps keep me from bingeing … each meal has a beginning and ending. And then in between there’s no eating except for my one snack (that I try to keep small).
A friend of mine calls her daily snack her “floating fruit” because she always has fruit for a snack, but the timing of when she eats it floats to various times on different days depending on how she’s feeling.

Binges and Cravings and Withdrawls, Oh My!

Hello. My name is Debi, and I’m a binge eater.

There are times when I start to eat and I can’t stop. I’ve been known to eat an entire large pizza all by myself. I can polish off a giant bowl of buttered popcorn and still be craving more. I can’t eat just one handful of berries; I have to eat every berry in the house, so my binges aren’t just unhealthy things. Yes, I binge on berries. But also candy. And doughnuts. And Lay’s Classic Potato Chips. And nachos. And so very, very many things.

Since I can’t touch these foods without risking a full-on binge, I decided to see what happened if I just avoided my binge foods all together. These are also foods that I often crave, so I suspected going Cold Turkey was going to be difficult. And it was. Sugar withdrawls. Cravings for pasta. Driving past the pizza place. Candy in the checkout line at the grocery store. Actually, almost every aisle in the grocery store contained items I binge/crave.

But I can say that I have now successfully given up my binge/craving foods for eight months! And I feel a hundred percent more in control of my eating. For me, just cutting back and eating moderately didn’t work because it’d set off cravings and binges. I’d just feel like a failure. Why couldn’t I eat in moderation like other people? It was a source of great shame.

So, for now, I’m avoiding sugars (including natural ones because I can binge on honey straight out of the jar); white flour (I don’t crave or binge whole grains so they’re okay); and many salty and crunchy things like popcorn, chips, French fries, and nuts. While I do binge on berries, I’ve left them in my diet because they’re so healthy. But I only bring a single serving size into my house at a time.

I don’t allow myself to go to the store or a drive-thru to satisfy a craving. I just wait it out. Eventually, it passes. But I’ve discovered that the longer I go without those foods that set off cravings, the less I crave them.

Also, I learned recently that binge eating is considered an actual eating disorder. And here I just thought it was my weird, secret eating habit.

And speaking of secrets, I’ve just let you in on a big thing in my life that was a source of shame, guilt, and secrecy. So not only have I found ways to successfully handle this eating problem, I’ve also found the courage to be open and rigorously honest about it.

Welcome to my world!

Candy and “food neutrality”

I’ve been working on weight loss and getting control of my compulsive food behaviors this year. I have a friend who I talk with regularly about my eating-related journey, and she believes it’s possible to achieve what she calls “food neutrality” where the food doesn’t call to you or tempt you anymore. I haven’t been sure what to think about the idea of food neutrality, but I experienced something this week that makes me wonder if there’s some validity to the concept.

Eight months ago, I stopped eating sugar. Cold turkey. Even went through withdrawals of sorts. Mainly headache, body aches, and overwhelming cravings. The discomfort lasted about a week, and then things settled down. No more physical symptoms, but still having cravings that I battled everyday. I talked to my friend everyday during this time, and her encouragement really helped. I have remained sugar-free for more than half a year. Amazing!

Fast forward to now.

Two weeks ago, I bought two large bags of candy to hand out to the trick-or-treaters on Halloween. I put the bags into a large bowl, and set it by the front door. Now, to give some context, on previous years if I’d bought candy early, I would’ve eaten the entire bag all by myself, and then would’ve needed to buy more candy to hand out. I’m a bit of a sugar addict and binge eater.

But this year it was different. I walked past the bowl of candy (all favorite candies, by the way), and I felt nothing. No cravings. No temptations. When I would look at the candy bowl, it felt almost like I was just looking at a bowl of dirt. Something inedible. Not food for me at all.

Is this what food neutrality is like?

On the other hand, I found myself thinking about the upcoming holidays and all the homemade treats that show up. Will my candy neutrality apply to homemade baked goods, too? I honestly don’t think so. Just thinking about those items (which will remain nameless so I don’t trigger myself) sends me into cravings. But knowing how eight months of living sugar-free set me free from candy, if I make it through the holidays and get some more time under my belt, perhaps food neutrality will show up for other temptations?

In the meantime, I’ll start this month of Thanksgiving being grateful for making huge strides with my weight, food, and body goals. Oh, and by the way, I’ve lost twenty-five pounds! Slowly, but I think, healthily.

Comfort List

I’m not on a diet (currently), but I am trying to redefine my relationship with food.  For example, I tend to go to food for comfort rather than just for sustenance.  If I’m depressed or lonely or anxious, I reach for some ice cream or pizza or a big bowl of buttered popcorn.

When I talked to a friend about my tendency to use food as comfort, she had an idea.  Make a list of things and activities that bring me comfort, and then try to add more of those things into my daily life.  I can also pull out the list whenever I find myself about to turn to food for comfort.

I think it might be an excellent idea.

Here’s my first draft of my Comfort List.  I’m sure there are more things to come as I have time to mull it over.

  • Nature walks
  • books
  • cats
  • photography
  • collaging
  • naps
  • movies
  • lunch dates
  • birds
  • prayer/meditation
  • writing

So next time instead of grabbing a carton of ice cream, maybe I could grab a soft, furry, purring cat.  Or write a poem.  Or read a chapter in whatever book I’m reading.

Also, I made a list of the foods I turn to for comfort and cleared them out of the house.  In the past, that wouldn’t have stopped me from eating the items.  It just meant I’d make an emergency run to the store or to Dairy Queen.  Now, before I run to the store, I’ll try turning to my Comfort List.  We’ll see if it makes a difference.

Gazpacho

This is a long time family recipe. So what I learned making this cold soup is don’t snack on it or sample it until it’s had time to sit in the fridge for several hours. It was way too vinegary when I sampled it, but after the flavors had a chance to blend, it was much better. Cool and refreshing on a hot summer day.

Gazpacho
6 to 8 small servings

  • 4 large ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium sized onion, finely minced
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and finely minced
  • 1 cup tomato juice or V8
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, stir ingredients together.
Chill soup until icy cold (several hours or overnight).
Serve cold.