Sunday, September 20, 2009

20# Gone

My total weight loss is 20# since last June. That's an average of about 5 pounds per month. That's a nice, steady pace.

I think quick weight loss is an awful goal for many reasons. If you're losing weight to improve your overall health, then trying to lose weight in a unhealthy way seems counterproductive. Then there's all the research that says if you lose it too fast, first it's excess water. Then instead of burning fat, you lose your own muscle tissue. That's also counterproductive to good health.

But that's not why I prefer to lose slowly. I prefer to lose slowly because it gives me time to build (or rebuild) habits that will help me keep it off. Some of what I do is based on things that worked in the past. But a lot of what I'm doing now is in response to living in a culture that promotes weight gain.

It's easier to lose weight if you stay home and make your own food. But that's not a realistic lifestyle for the average person. Although we're not eating out these days, I discovered a couple of new strategies for dealing with restaurant food before Paul was laid off. The problems with restaurant food are mainly the amount of fat they use and the enormous portions they serve. I deal with the fat by eating small amounts of the higher calorie items and getting all dressings, sauces, etc. on the side. Then I get to pick how much of them I eat.

I deal with the portion sizes by getting a separate, small plate. Then I take about a third of what's on the serving-size plate they've given me. I eat that. Usually, it's plenty of food, especially if I've eaten a salad or soup to start with. The rest goes home and I get two or three more meals from it. The other strategy for dealing with portion sizes is to share. Even with sharing, we usually have food to take home.

Another strategy is to use my overall food philosophy--go for the veggies. I always order a salad or vegetable soup. It fills me up and makes it easier to eat smaller portions of the main course. Sometimes I substitute veggies for French fries, depending on what's available. There's no point if the vegetable dishes are all drenched in a butter sauce.

The traditional advice is to order plain steamed vegetables. But they usually aren't cooked properly and are unappetizing. They make me feel like I'm "on a diet". That "on a diet" feeling is hard for me because it makes me feel like I'm being punished for having a body that tends toward fatness. That's a killer for me, psychologically. It makes me want to pig out on high-calorie foods. So, I lose weight better if I eat reasonable-sized portions of foods I like (which includes properly-cooked steamed vegetables).

I'm learning to eat differently if I want dessert, too. If I'm just wanting a taste, a bite or two, I don't worry about it. But if I want a reasonable serving, I don't order a high-calorie main course. I'll have soup and salad and eat lightly the rest of the day (or the next day, if the meal out wasn't planned in advance.)

What's interesting about all of the above is that so much of it is traditional advice I never could figure out how to follow before. I don't want to eat so differently from the people around me that I'm advertising, "I'm trying to lose weight". It's that "punishment feeling" again. I much prefer that it appear that I'm eating the same as everyone else and I stopped eating because I got full.

That's probably why the current Weight Watcher program works so well for me, as well as so many other people. If you plan carefully and make good choices, you can eat like everyone else, just not as much food as the big people. I'm an average height woman with a medium build. I don't need as much food as a woman who's 6' tall and big boned. The problem is learning how much food is the amount my particular body needs. I'm working on it and feel like I finally have some good guidelines.