DAY 290: Sweet dreams

My subconscious is hilarious.  Between the competitive baking shows I’m now hooked on watching and the absence of sugary deliciousness in my life since leaving my family after Christmas “break,” I am constantly dreaming of desserts!  I wake up in the morning half-convinced that it was all true, and I really spent the past several hours pigging out on brownies, cupcakes, cookies, cakes, pies, fudge, ice cream, and solid blocks of chocolate.

I’ve had this type of strange dreaming happen before:  when I very first started losing, and over the summer when it started getting tiresome.  I’m not worried about it, I’m purely amused.  It’s like my inner child is screaming for goodies and the only way it can have them is in my nocturnal imagination.  OK, inner child!  Enjoy the fake calories!

One of the key things I’ve embraced from the start is not to practice absolute, categorical denial of anything.  I have sound reasons beyond the obvious “I don’t wanna,” and they’re my big 3:

  1. It’s unrealistic.  Eliminating entire swaths of food from your diet may yield drastic losses in the beginning, but it’s not sustainable in the long term.  Once you inevitably reintroduce your no-no food group, there’s a much higher likelihood that you will over-indulge like a fiend, and you’ll end up right back where you started.  Furthermore, are you really going to go through the rest of your life without ever having another slice of birthday cake, glass of champagne, or piece of candy?  No, you’re not, and you don’t want to.  Admit it now and you can work around it.
  2. It’s unhealthy.  The secret to all of this is balance.  If you cut out a whole brick of the food pyramid, you’ll have to figure out how to consume the good nutrients that were in that brick from somewhere else.  That’s math you’re not going to want to do.  Just eat less of the less-good stuff and you’ll be fine.
  3. It’s avoiding the real problem.  If you’re an over-eater, losing weight is extra challenging, and that’s because you don’t know how to eat just enough.  Without mastering moderation and portion control, you’re not going to truly change the bad habits that landed you in Fat Land in the first place.  You have to invest the time in training yourself to learn this new way of nourishing yourself.  Swearing off certain foods is not the way to do that.

 

***Of course, there are exceptions to this:  foods with no nutritional value, or that are chemical based rather than nutrient based, like pop.  I fully gave that shit up ages ago.  Everyone should!

In summary, the best approach — inherent difficulty notwithstanding! — is to keep everything in your diet, but learn how to control it.  It’s absolutely easier said than done, but it’s the only way.  Staying away from some foods entirely will only make your cravings for those foods harder and harder to resist until you eventually cave massively and end up hating yourself for the binge you go on.  It’s the oldest cliché in the weight-loss book, but it is a lifestyle change, and that means… CHANGING YOUR LIFESTYLE.

Meal planning and preparation solved almost all of that problem for me, and it’s why I can feel comfortable having a pint of Häagen-Dazs in my freezer right now.  I bought it two days ago and had actually forgotten it was there until I opened my freezer door this morning while putting my lunch together and saw it.  At this time last year, it would have been impossible for both of us to be in the same living quarters without me either constantly thinking about it or devouring the whole tub in one sitting.  This pint is for a special occasion, though, making it a low-risk temptation.  (Full disclosure:  There are 2 pints in there, but the second one will be for a later date when I feel like it’s appropriate.)

Conventional wisdom in weight loss is that you’re not supposed to reward yourself or celebrate milestones with food.  That makes perfect sense to me and I have adhered to it like a champ.  However, I’m making an exception for a few notable events coming up the week of January 17th:

  • The 17th is day 300 of my mission.  That’s a BFD, and it deserves recognition.
  • The 17th and 18th are also weigh-out dates for two of my DietBets that I have rather big numbers to pull in order to hit, but the fact that I was able to make it even a possibility that I could win after falling back around the holidays is reason enough to celebrate for me.
  • The 19th, I have a follow-up appointment with my doctor.  The last time I saw her was in mid-July, when she told me she bet she wouldn’t even recognize me the next time she saw me.  I had someone who recently came back to work from maternity leave actually not recognize me when we saw each other yesterday for the first time in 4 months, so I’m hoping my doctor’s prediction will be true.  And that will be after SIX months without seeing each other!
  • I’m closing in on losing 100 pounds, and if I keep up the pace, it’ll happen in time for that week.

 

So, yes.  Chocolate-peanut butter ice cream is in order that week.

I’m crazy enough to be looking forward to more sweet dreams tonight!

DAY 106: The best thing I ever did

Every time I see an article like this, I get a little self-congratulatory satisfaction.  I kicked the sauce 15 years ago.

As you can tell from the link, I’m not talking about liquor.  Luckily, I’ve never had much of a taste for most alcohol, so that hasn’t been a source of weight gain or an impediment to weight loss for me.  What I’m talking about is the equally dangerous, harmful, and addictive substance known as the soft drink (which I will refer to primarily as pop, because I grew up in a part of the country that calls it that).

For background, let me go on record and say I used to drink a TON of Coke.  We always had it in the house, and I would have 1-2 glasses with dinner every night as a kid.  Over summer vacations when school was out, I would come in from outside and pour myself a refreshing glass of not water, not lemonade, but Coke.  When my family would go to a restaurant for meals, I got endless refills of Coke.  I never. Stopped.  With.  The. Coke.  No one ever told me I should.  So, for my entire childhood, it was Coke everywhere.  Coke constantly.  Always Coca-Cola.

I was one of those kids who really trusted everything authority figures told me, especially my parents and my teachers.  Sadly, this means that if someone had told me when I was younger and impressionable that Coke was actually terribly bad for me — and probably if I hadn’t had such regular, easy access to it — I would not have been a pop guzzler during those development years.  When I finally did get un-hooked, it was kind of a happy byproduct of a different lesson I learned from an adult.

In my mandatory 9th-grade health class, it was the first time a teacher explained the benefits behind the then-recommended 8 8-ounce glasses of water per day tenet.  I decided I wanted to challenge myself to try and drink those 64 ounces of water a day, so I bought a 20-ounce bottle of Aquafina from the vending machine in the cafeteria one day and carried it around with me to classes.  I refilled it during the day from the water fountains in the hallway and aimed for 3 bottles a day, figuring that 60 ounces was just as good as 64.  I would make it through about 2 bottles in school and do the third bottle in the evening at home.  Boy, did I pee a lot all of a sudden.  I instantly became the girl asking for the hall pass in every period.  And my pee was no longer yellow, but clear.  I had never known that was a sign of good hydration.

When I first began that little experiment, I still went straight for the fridge for a glass of Coke when I got home from school.  Pretty early on, though — about 2 weeks in — I discovered I actually wasn’t thirsty for Coke; I was thirsty for more water.  (I now know that I was never thirsty for Coke; I was chemically craving it.)  I gradually, unintentionally, eliminated Coke from my diet.  Before long, I started learning how toxic pop is, and became intentional about my decision.  I avoided Coke almost entirely and drank exclusively water.  Not purely coincidentally, I was the only one of my friends who never had acne problems.  I was also the only one of my friends who didn’t have stained teeth when my braces got removed.  After a while, I didn’t even miss or think about Coke, even though it was still always in the fridge at home.  My little experiment that was supposed to be a short-term thing has turned into a permanent life style practice that I have carried on throughout my entire adult life.  In my early twenties, I graduated to a 32-ounce BPA-free bottle that I fill at least 4 times per day.  I take it with me everywhere.  I am never thirsty.

Almost everyone I know still drinks the fizz.  There are some who think it’s cute to constantly refer to their Diet Pepsi addictions, as if they don’t believe that’s actually a thing while they trumpet their dependency on that shit.  My friends, it ain’t cute.  I know I kind of got off that crap by happenstance, but I am thankful to my teenage self for that every day.  Giving up pop was the best thing I ever did for my health.

I’m not saying I’m better than anyone — I don’t believe that and I certainly don’t mean to imply it.  What I am saying is, that stuff IS addictive, and that’s the goal of soft drink manufacturers.  Our dependency on their product keeps them in business.  I believe that the reason Coke’s recipe is locked away in a vault guarded by dragons and rabid dogs is not because the Coca-Cola company is afraid of replication or corporate espionage, but because if the full list of ingredients were ever revealed BY the company, they would be admitting to guilt of willful and knowing participation in contributing to a public health epidemic.  If the series of links I shared at the beginning of this blog post didn’t illustrate the point finely enough, maybe this will: soda is extremely fucking bad for you.  That these companies are able to profit from marketing poison to the masses in an age where we know how terribly unhealthy this product is, is unconscionable.

I really hope that in the future, we will look back on the days of Coke and Pepsi with as much horror and condemnation as we look at tobacco companies now.  They’ll probably never go away completely, but they can be shamed and stigmatized into regulation the way cigarette companies largely have been.  Just as tobacco products are only available for purchase by consenting adults and labeled with warnings reminding you that what you’re consuming is killing you, so should pop be.  If that sounds extreme, I don’t care.  That shit is unhealthy, addictive, unnatural, a body pollutant, a contributor to disease and obesity, and pure trash.  Should that be in the bodies of children?  Should that be in the body of anybody?

I guess I’m feeling a little angry today about this.  I see people chugging carbonated sugar like it’s no big deal, and it worries me.  Diet-branded drinks do not make it better; in fact, they are likely even worse.  As I’ve mentioned previously, learning about food addiction has been a revelation for me.  In that light, I see the beverage addiction even more harshly.  I can’t believe we willingly put this stuff into our bodies.

That’s what this is all about, though, isn’t it?  We have to have that set of realizations that make us say, “Hang on a sec — what am I doing to myself?”  Whether that realization comes after a heart-to-heart with a loved one, through self-education, or by a complete accident, it has to come if you want to be healthy.  You are the only one who can make these choices for yourself.  You are in control.  You decide what goes into your body.  You.  That’s what I’ve always heard, and what I finally understand.

Funny, for all my youthful reverence of adult authority figures, it’s grown-up me who learned from my teenage self.  Seriously, high-school me:  thank you.