Disorderly Conduct for OctoberFast

Y’all, I’ve finally admitted to myself this week that I have skid row self-discipline. Every night before I go to sleep, I make to-do lists and swear resolutions like a drunk with her head over the toilet. I promise to do the laundry and actually get it all put away on the same day (!) just like that drunk promises to never touch another drop of alcohol. And just like that drunk pops a cork the next day, I’m sitting on the couch on the next day with my feet up, eating popcorn, and watching Game of Thrones while the laundry sits unfolded on the kitchen table.

And, frankly, I’m getting on my own nerves with it.

My house is NEVER ready for company to just drop by. I stop at fast food places for dinner, meanwhile salad ingredients liquify in my refrigerator. I drink WAY too much Diet Coke because I just don’t like to drink water. I still can’t walk for exercise; but, I don’t haul myself to the pool, which I could do. I have such a huge list of things I need and/or want to tackle, I don’t get any of it done.

My boss was talking the other day about something she does – OctoberFast. For the month of October, she gives up one unhealthy thing – like Lent, but in the Fall and without Mardi Gras parades. So, I’m tackling my list by giving up two things: 1. ice cream, and 2. leaving dishes in the sink.

no-ice-cream-for-youNow, for a reasonable person, giving up ice cream might mean no dessert for two nights a month. Not for me! The ridiculous truth is that I eat ice cream at least four times a week. (I told you it was ridiculous.) And I just haven’t made myself give it up; so, I’m doing it for October – 31 days with no ice cream. I’m not giving it up forever, but I can handle 31 days. I can handle a finite period of time without my favorite treat and with a new chore.

My dishwasher died several years ago and I’ve never replaced it. I lived alone for much of that time and it just wasn’t that important to me. Now, however, my sister lives with me and the dishes pile up faster since neither of us are big fans of washing them. I get annoyed with her when she doesn’t wash them when I think it’s her turn; but, the truth is, I don’t do them like I should when it’s my turn, either. I’m currently saving up for a dishwasher; however, it’s unlikely that I’ll have the money for it before the end of the month So, for the 31 days that are October, I will wash the dishes every day and put them away before I go to bed. That’s such a basic adult thing to do, it really looks like that would be a non-issue, doesn’t it? Well, whatever. It is and I’m dealing with it this month.

This October is a time to tackle two places where I display no self-discipline. I’m hopeful that I’ll notice a change in my motivations by the time the month is over. I’d say that I’m looking forward to it, but that’s not really the truth. (Didn’t you hear me? I’m giving up ICE CREAM!) But, I know the process is good for me; so, I’m doing it. I just OctoberFast really is…..er…fast.

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The Wheel

…and why reinventing it is unnecessary.

I am an idiot. Let me just start with that.

The past several months I’ve tried all kinds of different strategies, tricks and ridiculous things to get this weight off again. And, guess what. None of those strategies, tricks or ridiculous things worked. Why? Because I was listening to other people – diet “experts.” See all those diet books in photo at the top? Those are my books. I own them. Those aren’t even all the ones I’ve read. Those are just the ones I own. (Some of them are recipe books, but they contain meal plans or advice on how to build them. Since I’ve used them like diet books, I’m counting them as diet books.) And I’m going to run it down for you. For losing weight, the ONLY two that have had advice that worked for me are Sybil Ferguson’s The Diet Center Program and Erin Oprea’s The 4X4 Diet.  Years ago, I used Bill Phillips’ Body for Life book, which was also helpful; but, not in the long term.

I lost about 60 pounds using the Diet Center Program when I was in college. When I lost weight successfully five years ago, that’s pretty  much what I used then, as well. Rather than keeping a paper food diary, though, I used the LoseIt app. Since I lost 94 pounds, I’d say it was a good combination. Wouldn’t you? So, why in the world, when I decided to get back on track, did I try these other methods?!

The only answer that makes sense to me is that I’m just thick-headed.

Even though I know that only hard work and diligence will make me leaner and fitter, I still buy into the hype and marketing. I still want to believe that there is a Magic Pill or a Get Thin quick fix.  There’s not. There’s just not. Even a whole food, plant based diet may make me healthier; but, unless I stay away from starchy carbs and excess oils, it’s not going to make me leaner.

So, for the last 30 days, I have successfully logged all my food intake, and I mean every morsel. I’ve been weighing and measuring my food again to make sure I know exactly how much I’m eating. Because I had a cast on my foot when I started this, I did not weigh in and I haven’t weighed now. But, in those 30 days, I’ve lost at least two inches around my ribs and at least an inch from around my waist. And that is just from watching what I’m eating and from watching WHEN I eat it.

Erin Oprea’s The 4X4 Diet added some practical advice to The Diet Center Program. Erin (who has never had a weight problem herself; but, who writes with the empathy of someone who really gets it) advocates watching WHEN you’re eating certain foods. As a result, I plan my meals better. If I’m going to have toast, a sandwich, or potatoes, I make sure that in addition to eating a controlled portion, I eat that portion before 3 PM. No starchy foods after 3. (Well, except when my sister and I went to see Beauty and the Beast. I totally chowed on the popcorn. But it’s DISNEY!)

Erin also advocates a periodic cheat meal – not a cheat day, a cheat meal. The idea of a whole day of eating whatever I want scares me from the perspective of a sugar addict; so, I allow myself just the one cheat meal each week, and I usually plan it for several days. I count the calories for that meal in my food diary; but, I eat whatever I want. I’ve had three cheat meals now. I truly ate whatever I wanted and as much as I wanted; however, I’m noticing that I don’t want to blow it out quite so hard. Next week, I’ll still eat whatever I want; but, I’m going to control the portion on it. I believe that I can get the same enjoyment out of that meal without consuming quite so many calories.

I’m really excited about the progress I’ve made in the last 30 days – neither my bra nor my shorts are cutting me in half, and I can bend over to tie my shoes without huffing and puffing.I still have a long way to go; but, I’m finally on track and have been on track long enough that I feel comfortable sharing it with you. I had to throw out all the “great, new ideas” and get back to what I know worked (with a tweak or two). I was failing because I was trying to reinvent the wheel.

Now, I’m rolling along just fine.

Minute. Hour. Day.

I don’t know if we’ve discussed this; but, I’m a Mississippi State fan. #TrueMaroon My parents both graduated from State, where they actually met at a dance. They were introduced at that dance by an MSU cheerleader, as a matter of fact. My sister and I both graduated from State, as well. My sister worked there for many years and my mother taught there for a few semesters. We. Bleed. Maroon.

So, you know that I was ecstatic when the Mississippi State Women’s basketball team was in the Final Four, even though I’m really not much of a basketball fan. I was delirious and hoarse when they won their game against legendary UConn. I was as proud for those young women as I was disappointed for them when they lost the title game to South Carolina. Even with the loss, they have a great deal to be proud of, not least of which how they comported themselves.

After the victory over UConn, I read a quote from the MSU Coach Vic Schaefer. He told his team,

“Win the minute. Win the hour. Win the day.”

I love that on so many levels.

I stopped writing for a long time because I concluded that, basically, I was full of crap. I was telling you about all the things I was going to to, things I was starting; but, things I didn’t follow up on. (More on that tomorrow.) I had all these ideas and thinking that I could force things to work and, I could, for a day or two. Then I failed. Just like I have a million times before. Just like all of us have a million times before.

I was looking at the whole task to be done and easily becoming overwhelmed. I was following the advice of some people who have NEVER had a weight problem; but, who have all these ideas on how to lose weight. I wasn’t listening to myself. I wasn’t doing the things that I know work. I was confusing myself with data and garbage, and getting lost in the process. I lost focus.

When I read that quote, its elegance struck me. How simple! How profound! How perfect! And it doesn’t matter if you’re talking playing basketball, dieting, working, parenting, healing an injury or living. Get the small things right and the big things take care of themselves.

Win the minute. Win the hour. Win the day. 

I need to embroider this on a pillow.

Two Weeks In

And, frankly, I’m more than a little discouraged. I don’t see or feel much difference at all. I have a little easier time getting up off of the floor; but, that’s really kind of it. I almost wish that I had stepped on the scales two weeks ago so that I could see if I have lost any actual weight. But, I didn’t; so, I can’t. I can’t even point to measurable progress to keep myself motivated. I’m just having to trash talk myself through.

I know. I know. Weight loss isn’t the end game, the Why. But it’s certainly the road to getting to the Why and I can’t see that I’m any further down that road.

Because I’m on leave, I don’t socialize much, which is certainly not helping the situation. I’m alone a great deal of the time and I’m being bombarded by cravings from a sugar addiction. Okay, maybe it’s not a bombardment anymore – maybe it’s more like an incessant tapping. Still, I know the cravings are there and there are times when it’s really difficult to overcome them. To this point I have pretty well, though. No Blizzards. No Frosties. No frozen cashew milk. No chips. No candy. I did have some wine and a serving of the carrot flan cake Saturday night; but, that’s been my only step off the straight and narrow.

It’s hard, but I have to keep the faith that if I continue making healthful food choices and continue exercising that I will begin seeing results. Clearly I’m not seeing them as quickly as I’d like; but, I am confident they are coming.

weight-loss-is-hard

 

 

The Belly of the Beast

After a full week of making more healthful food choices and avoiding nearly all processed foods, I feel fantastic! My energy level is up. My eyes are sparkling. A song perches on my lips the moment my feet hit the floor! I am practically Cinderella.

Yeah. Right. What a load of crap.

“And the noise was in the beast’s belly like unto the questing of thirty couple hounds” (Book 1, chapter XIX) -Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory, circa 1469

“Thirty couple hounds” is, I think, what my mother used to refer to as “forty, ‘leventy dozen.” Ever how many it is, though,  it is still the number of dogs that sound like they’re in my belly looking for something to eat. Maybe not dogs, but something else that’s growling and looking for snackage, for sure. Like Jabba the Hutt’s sarlacc (from its holiday portrait above), my stomach feels like an open pit ringed by teeth and tusks, ready to consume all ice cream, cup cakes, or Kaminoan bounty hunters that happen to come my way. I have been eating whole, plant-based foods all week and am jonesing for an Oreo Blizzard so hard that I’ve even dreamed about it. Seriously, I’m ready to make my way to the Crossroads to make a deal with Ole Scratch. I woke up from the dream feeling guilty even though I hadn’t actually done anything. It reminded me of when I quit smoking seven or eight years ago. I had the same kinds of dreams and the same kinds of guilt.

I was a moderate to heavy smoker for the better part of 20 years. I liked the ritual of tapping a new pack five times on each side before opening it. I liked the smell of the pack when I first opened it, particularly if the cigarettes were really fresh. The tobacco smelled wonderful! Then I’d put that first one between my lips and light it. The sulfer dioxide smell of the match entered my nostrils just as the sound of the sizzling tobacco burning reached my ears. Then I’d inhale and the nicotine would hit the pleasure centers of my brain, lighting them up. Fantastic. Just fantastic.

I know people who are social smokers. They can smoke a whole pack while out drinking with friends, then not pick up another cigarette for months. That’s not me. I’m a nicotine addict. I love the feeling of when that nicotine hits my brain producing the buzz and calming my nerves. (See? At least seven years after my last smoke and I can still remember the exact feeling.) Because I enjoy that feeling so much, I never experimented with hard drugs like heroin, cocaine or ecstasy. I was always afraid that I would like them too much. For the same reason, I steer clear of opioid pain killers. (Even with as bad as my foot and ankle have hurt these months, I’ve stuck to various NSAIDs.) What I have not steered clear of is ice cream. Or cake. Or chocolate. Or pastries. Yet, the sugar in those items hits the pleasure centers of my brain exactly like those other drugs would. And the lack of sugar causes withdrawal issues exactly like the lack of those other drugs would.

I have no doubt that heroin withdrawal is FAR worse than anything I’m going through right now; but, that doesn’t change the fact that I’m still going through my own thing. I’m cranky. I’m hungry. I’m unfocused .But mostly I’m cranky. I want a hit of Phish Food. Badly.

But I’m not going to go get one.

I’m not because I have my eye on my Why – to become able again, rather than remaining disabled by my own hand.

While I may never reach the happy nirvana of our morning songstress Cinderella, I know that my days of feeling like a subterranean Tantooine carnivore are limited. Just as surely as better health and (hopefully) healing are coming, so, too, is relief from the cravings.

Detox: Day 1

Alright, first, let me say that I get just as annoyed as most people when diets talk about “detoxing” and “cleansing.” Most of the people making those claims hold degrees in marketing, not in medicine or nutrition. Frankly, I’m not even sure those claims have any real meaning. What I’m talking about here is straight up detoxing – getting away from an addictive substance and going through the subsequent withdrawal symptoms.

You might have noticed that chocolate appears nowhere on Dr. Allie’s list. It doesn’t appear on the copy I transcribed for you and it doesn’t exist on the original. Trust me. I examined it … at length … with a magnifying glass … and with invisible ink developers. Chocolate wasn’t there neither were low-fat cookies, Oreos, frozen cashew milk desserts, peanut butter, Nilla wafers, Diet Coke, nor fruit baked into pies. Okay, yeah. That makes sense. I’ve been through this before and knew that all of those (except peanut butter – that was kind of a nasty surprise) were on the prohibited list. So yesterday saw my first day of detox from sugar. And my body isn’t freaking out.

Yet.

After party clean upAs we’ve discussed before (a really long time ago) the human brain reacts to sugar in the same way that it reacts to cocaine and sex. The pleasure centers light up and throw a giant party. Once the sugar is all used up, the pleasure centers begin to sulk, fuss and demand another party. My cells aren’t demanding a party yet; but, they are beginning to get a little disgruntled. Here’s what I ate yesterday:

Budget 1,264   Food Intake 1,209
Breakfast: 416
Tofurky Italian Sausage 1 Piece (280 cal)
German Sauerkraut 1 Cup (56 cal)
Beets 1 Cup (80 cal)
Lunch: 154
Creamy Sweet Potato and Vegetable Stew 1 Serving (104 cal)
Beets 1/4 Cup (20 cal)
Plums, Fresh, 2 1/8″ 1 Each (30 cal)
Dinner: 270
Oatmeal with flax meal and chia seeds 2/3 Serving (180 cal)
Banana, Fresh, Sml, 6″ To 6 7/8″ Long 1 Each (90 cal)
Snacks: 369
Deluxe Mixed Nuts 1 1/2 Ounces (255 cal)
Hummus, Roasted Pine Nut 2 Tablespoons (50 cal)
Cucumber, Fresh, Med 2 Cups (31 cal)
Asparagus, Spears, Cooked 10 Each (33 cal)

My nutrient breakdown was about:

Fat – 48.7g, 37.7% of calories (USDA – 20-35% of calories)
Saturated fat – 8.3g
cholesterol – 0g (no animal products means no cholesterol)
Sodium – 3088.4mg (USDA – 2300mg)
Carbohydrates – 117.4g, 40.3% of calories (USDA – 130g, 45-65% of calories)
Fiber – 32.5g (USDA – 25.2g)
Sugar – 34g (There is no USDA number; however, the Heart Association recommends 25g for females)
Protein – 64g, 22% of calories (USDA – 46g, 10-35% of calories)
USDA daily calorie recommendations for females my age:
1800 for sedentary, 2000 for moderately active, 2200 for active

I was a little over in my fat consumption (all those nuts) and a little over in my sugar intake (beets. Beets, man.) However, it was a fairly balanced day. For the next few days, I will likely remain a little high in my sugar intake since I’ll be eating fruits to try to keep my pleasure centers from going into full-on rebellion. After my body gets used to having nutrient- and fiber-rich foods again, I’ll be able to back off the fruit a little.

Until then, I’ve got to go check the refrigerator. I’m just certain I bought blueberries yesterday.